Picture: Brendan Magaar/African News Agency (ANA) Archives
Picture: Brendan Magaar/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

Questions raised over Western Cape’s Covid-19 testing method

By Mwangi Githathu Time of article published Jul 31, 2020

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Cape Town - The Western Cape Department of Health’s decision to only test those who are at highest risk and most vulnerable to dying from Covid-19 infection in the Cape Town metropolitan area has been questioned by the ANC provincial spokesperson on health, Rachel Windvogel.

The department’s budget was increased by R1.6billion, from R26.2bn to R27.8bn, in the adjustment estimate to address the impact of the pandemic in the province.

Speaking during the vote debate in the legislature on the Western Cape Adjustments Appropriation (Covid-19) Bill for the department, which the ANC rejected, Windvogel said the strategy was misleading the public into believing that the situation was improving.

“It was only recently, after the introduction of the new testing strategy, that we saw lower numbers due to under-testing.

“Testing and screening activities together with additional bed capacity were allocated more than R257.4million; there is absolutely no reason to continue with this strategy, unless its purpose is to deceive the public to believe the worst is over,” said Windvogel.

“This is far from the truth, confirmed positive cases are only declining because we are conducting fewer tests.

“Your data-led targeted hotspot strategy should point you to one direction, and that is to use the available budget to open up testing facilities to the broader community.”

Health MEC Nomafrench Mbombo said: “I took it for granted that because we as a department have been making presentations to these committees in the House and on a weekly basis.

"The premier holds a digital press conference and we also have information on social media, that some of us would take the opportunity to read and understand what is happening.

“The notion that the Western Cape is plateauing because we are not testing more is wrong.

“Testing is not a conclusive determinant in terms of whether our numbers are rising or falling. Hospital admissions and the numbers of deaths are the reliable indicators," Mbombo added.

Cape Argus

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