Rapid antigen tests added to Covid-19 statistics
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CAPE TOWN - The Department of Health has added the rapid antigen tests on the line of Covid-19 statistics, effective immediately.
“As of 8 November 2021, we have identified approximately 75 000 antigen tests that need to be captured into the database. Of these tests, about 20 813 were diagnosed as positive for Sars-CoV-2,” the department said in a statement.
Testing for Sars-CoV-2 in South Africa is based on the gold standard of a laboratory-confirmed PCR test. Initially all Covid-19 positive cases were diagnosed through this method.
However in October 2020 rapid antigen tests were approved for use by the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (Sahpra) and have been increasingly used by health-care professionals to diagnose Covid-19. The country’s Covid-19 surveillance data is premised on capturing laboratory-confirmed case data of both the PCR and rapid Covid-19 antigen tests.
“These tests provide easier access to testing and provide results within 15 to 20 minutes of testing. Multiple manufacturers are now producing these tests and use them for testing in line with Sahpra’s approval,” health authorities said.
“Through ongoing efforts to ensure the best available surveillance data for decision-making, the department is aware of a number of Covid-19 antigen tests from various sources that have not been incorporated into the laboratory information system.”
The health department added that the “retrospective incorporation” of these positive cases into the surveillance data would have no impact on case management and follow-up as “the patient is immediately informed of a positive test result”.
“The identification of these additional data are not unusual as data cleaning, quality checks and endeavours for completeness are ongoing processes,” the health department added.
“There have been extensive engagements with the National Incident Management Team, the provinces, the National Health Laboratory Service and the National Institute for Communicable Diseases, and we have included these data on the 22 November, so that it would reflect on today’s (Tuesday’s) report. As we report test data and case numbers for the past 24 hours through our outbreak reporting system, we will observe an increase in a single day, which will create a distortion of the seven-day moving average and an unusual spike on the reporting epidemic curve.”