Health Minister Zweli Mkhize is on Friday night briefing the nation on his department’s interventions as the country prepares to move to level 3 lockdown on June 1. He will be joined by members of the Ministerial Advisory Committee, senior officials from the Department of Health and the leadership of Health Entities including South African Health Products Regulatory Authority, the National Health Laboratory Services and the National Institute For Communicable Diseases Of South Africa.
Mkhize’s briefing is also expected to address the issue of backlogs in testing for Covid-19 and plans to dealth with areas which have been declared coronavirus hotspots. South Africa has a backlog of more than 96 000 unprocessed specimens awaiting coronavirus tests, the health ministry said on Friday, reflecting what it called a global shortage of test kits.
The country has taken some of the most decisive measures on the African continent to tackle the spread of the virus, conducting the most tests and imposing one of its strictest lockdown. But it is finding it hard to ramp up testing as much as it would like because some global suppliers are unable to meet its demand for laboratory kits, Mkhize said in parliament this week. South Africa had recorded 27,403 confirmed coronavirus cases and 577 deaths as of Thursday, out of some 655,000 people tested.
The health ministry said in a statement that as of May 25, the latest date for which it gave data, unprocessed specimens awaiting tests stood at 96,480. This challenge is caused by the limited availability of test kits globally,” it said.
There was a backlog of 101,007 unprocessed throat swabs and saliva samples on May 21 and 58,930 on May 14. The ministry said it was prioritising processing tests for patients admitted in hospitals and healthcare workers, while also collecting specimens from community screening.
“The whole world is scrambling to get all the kits, the laboratory kits, and that’s where we are actually getting squeezed now,” Mkhize told parliament. We need society to understand that this is now becoming a constraint. It’s not so much our capacity, more than it is about whether the global suppliers are able to respond to our requests.
In other news – Simz Ngema shares 5 tips on how you can build your personal brand
And once you’ve gotten there, there’s the round-the-clock responsibility of keeping your community interested and engaged. Local songstress and celebrity, Simphiwe Ngema says that it’s a big job being a personality on social media. Read more