Early enthusiasm about South Africa’s strong position to scale up COVID-19 testing due to existing investments in diagnostic infrastructure for HIV and TB waned after the country found itself unable to secure adequate test materials. Steps are now being taken to reduce the dependence on just a few suppliers for these materials. Catherine Tomlinson reports.
While COVID-19 tests in the private sector are often processed within a day or two – even if the test is not urgent – many patients in public sector hospitals have to wait a week or more. Amy Green investigates the stark differences between public and private sector testing in South Africa.
The Northern Cape Health Department has come under fire from NEHAWU, the DA, residents and healthcare workers for not testing enough and dragging its feet with its COVID-19 response. Refilwe Mekoa and Alicestine October investigate.
Many types of surgery are being delayed in South African hospitals. HIV and TB testing rates are down. Kathryn Cleary investigates the impact the COVID-19 pandemic is having on ‘normal’ healthcare in South Africa.
The national lockdown has bought South Africa some time to get health facilities ready for COVID-19. Tiyese Jeranji looks at measures underway to prepare George Hospital for the expected surge in cases.
The National Health Laboratory Service claims it has the capacity to do 15 000 COVID-19 tests a day, but that the actual number of tests being done is lower because of limited demand from provinces.
South Africa’s strategy to defeat COVID-19 (Coronavirus Disease 2019) is to lockdown the country and upscale testing to quickly identify individuals who may have been infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
Professor Lynn Morris interim director of the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) has a lifetime of experience fighting viruses. She has encountered HIV, Ebola, TB, Listeria, Klebsiella, a multitude of ‘lesser’ pathogens and now COVID-19. However, she thinks that COVID-19, the name given for the disease caused by SARS-CoV-2, presents one of the greatest challenges yet to both South Africa and the world.
Irregular expenditure by the National Health Laboratory Service (NHLS) in the 2018/19 financial year totalled almost R2,7 billion – the biggest chunk of the R3,03 billion the National Department of Health and all its entities incurred the past financial year.