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Covid-19 Home Testing - This is what happens

Published Apr 7, 2020


CAPE TOWN - At the end of March, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced a mass door-to-door programme consisting of 10 000 field workers to conduct screening, testing, tracing and medical management to combat the Covid-19 outbreak.

We unpack how the process unfolds by answering these frequently asked questions ;

Who are the fieldworkers, and how can I identify them ?

The fieldworkers have been employed by the Department of Health to assist with the screening and testing process. They will be wearing official T-shirts, will carry their personal ID and departmental ID.

Here’s some safety guidelines to follow when dealing with fieldworkers ;

- Always ask for identification before allowing anyone onto your property

- Verify identification by calling local police or councillor before allowing anyone into your home

- Stay vigilant and aware at all times

- Keep your property doors and gates secure

- If you suspect something suspicious, call 10111

- Call a neighbour to alert them before allowing anyone into your home

- Screening process can also take place outside your home if it makes you feel safer

What will the fieldworkers do at my home ?

The fieldworkers will check if you are displaying any Covid-19 symptoms, ask you a few questions about your recent travel movements, health and well being. They will also check your temperature - this process is known as


What happens next ?

If you display symptoms, you will be referred to a local or mobile clinic for a test to be conducted by a qualified Health professional and self quarantined. In some instances, a mobile testing team can be called in.

The test is conducted using the following methods ;


Upper Respiratory Tract – With the patients head titled back, a swab is slowly inserted through the nostril until the nasopharynx (the upper part of the throat connecting to the nasal cavity) is reached. The swab is to be rotated and held in this position for a few seconds then removed slowly.


Lower Respiratory Tract – With the patients head titled back slightly and mouth wide open, saying “aaah” with the swab inserted into the mouth to first rub the tonsils and then pharynx (back of the throat in a figure 8 motion) – this is the primary site of infection with the highest viral load.


Sputum Collection – The patient is asked to cough and produce saliva that has been brought up.

If you DO NOT display symptoms then you DO NOT require a test and you may continue with practicing hand hygiene and social distancing.

What happens if I test positive ?

Those who are infected with Covid-19 with zero to mild symptoms will remain in isolation at home. Those with severe symptoms will be transferred to hospitals. You will also be guided on how to self quarantine. Those who are unable to self quarantine safely without infecting others will then be taken to government quarantine sites pending the outcome of the test and period of infection.

Will they stick that long thing up my nose and down my throat ?

Only if you display symptoms during your screening will a test be done. If you do not display symptoms there is no need for the test.

What happens to the information collected by the fieldworkers ?

All information gathered by the department during the door-to-door programme will remain confidential and only disclosed to health officials in order to combat the spread of the virus.

For any further information regarding the Door-to-door testing programme, contact 0800 029 999.


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