COVID-19: What tests are available in SA and which ones to use?

The different types of COVID-19 tests are far from equal. Picking a test is generally a matter of speed versus accuracy and, most importantly, why you need a test and when. What are the limitations of these tests? Is there any quality control? What are the chances of false positives and false negatives? Elsabé Brits surveys the landscape of tests available in South Africa and asks which type is most appropriate in what situation.

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COVID-19: Clearer picture of long COVID slowly emerging

The first long COVID study conducted in South Africa found that 82% of patients still had persistent or new symptoms a month after their discharge from hospital. However, much is still unknown about what exactly causes this and how to alleviate the suffering, which is becoming an increasing health burden across the globe. Elsabé Brits surveyed the latest evidence and asked local experts to place it in context.

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How well is SA’s chronic medicines distribution system working?

Having to collect one’s medicines at overcrowded public sector clinics with long queues can be time-consuming, disruptive, and, these days, may expose one to a risk of contracting SARS-CoV-2. Thabo Molelekwa takes stock of South Africa’s centralised chronic medicines dispensing and distribution programme, the Department of Health’s system for allowing more people to collect their chronic medicines closer to their homes or workplaces.

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Healthcare workers in the third wave: “We are living in the shadows of death”

It’s been over a year since COVID-19 first hit South Africa. Since then, many people have been living in constant fear and many have lost loved ones. Frontline healthcare workers had no choice but to face their fears if they were to keep doing the life-saving work they were trained for. Amy Green and colleagues explore the emotional toll that South Africa’s third wave of COVID-19 is taking on healthcare workers.

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COVID-19: Will vaccinated people in South Africa need booster shots?

The two vaccines used in South Africa’s vaccination programme, those from Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer/BioNTech, have both been shown to be highly effective against COVID-19, particularly in preventing hospitalisation and death. But protection may wane over time and new variants may or may not render these vaccines less effective. Adele Baleta unpacks what we do and do not know about the potential need for booster shots and surveys some of the studies that will help fill the gaps.

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In-depth: How can we improve ventilation to prevent COVID-19 and TB?

Ventilation plays an important role in preventing the transmission of airborne diseases but currently, ventilation standards for buildings are focused on preventing odours in spaces, instead of preventing disease transmission. Elri Voigt spoke to two experts about the role of ventilation in the transmission of airborne diseases such as tuberculosis and COVID-19 and what can be done to improve ventilation in buildings.

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Opinion: World TB Day – let’s seize this moment to change the status quo

Like with SARS-CoV2, we need to rapidly implement and scale-up effective tuberculosis (TB) prevention interventions, while remaining adaptive to prevailing needs across the country. If we choose to pursue this more deliberate approach to TB prevention in South Africa, World TB Day will no longer be an admission of insufficient progress, but a celebration of defeating our long-standing battle with this curable disease, writes Dr Kavindhran Velen and Professor Salome Charalambous.

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