KZN clears Covid-19 test backlog
Durban - The Covid-19 KwaZulu-Natal test backlog has finally been cleared. The National Health Laboratory Service (NHLS) had in recent weeks struggled to deal with the increasing number of tests that had to be conducted.
Sibulele Bandezi, the KZN area manager for NHLS, said the backlog of samples, of which there were fewer than 3000, predominantly from community screening and testing, had all been processed and were waiting to be put on the laboratory information system.
He said the backlogged tests should not affect the rate of positive results at all, which was currently 28%, while the rate of the backlogged samples was around 20%.
“The positivity rate has been going up steadily and in August it is around 25%. Also, KZN on the national grid cases was sitting below 6% at the beginning of July, and as at August9, KZN’s contribution is at 17.5%.”
Bandezi said that NHLS was finding positive cases from all over KZN.
As of August 10 , KZN had recorded a total of 99 386 positive cases, 55 155 recoveries and 1 420 deaths.
Last week, epidemiologist and infectious diseases specialist, Professor Salim Abdool Karim, said the province was in the middle of its surge.
He said once the backlog was cleared, they would be able to assess whether “KZN was on a downward trend, upward trend or staying straight”.
KZN Premier Sihle Zikalala, who was speaking during the commemoration of Women’s Day on Sunday, called on KZN to “gear up for the intensive peak” that Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said would start this week.
“As we prepare to weather the predicted storm, we wish to make a clarion call to the people of this province to play their part and safeguard themselves from unnecessary infections or spreading Covid-19,” he said.
Zikalala said no area in the province should be regarded as immune or safe from Covid-19.
He said the hot spots in eThekwini included uMlazi, Phoenix, KwaMashu, Chatsworth, Newlands, Pinetown, Inanda, Ntuzuma, oThongathi and the Bluff.
In uMgungundlovu, the hot spots were Imbali, Northdale, Pietermaritzburg CBD, Howick, Sobantu, Elandskop, Mpofana and Hilton.
Zikalala said they were seeing a surge of cases in rural areas such as Zululand.
He said the increased number of home deaths due to patients going into facilities for treatment too late, was extremely concerning.
“Self-quarantine or self-isolating at home is extremely risky in the event of complications setting in, and therefore we encourage people to come to our facilities and get support and care.”
EThekwini Municipality mayor Mxolisi Kaunda said eThekwini had become the epicentre of Covid-19 in KZN, and urged communities to co-operate with the government in flattening the curve.
Kaunda said those attending funerals should adhere to safety protocols by keeping the number of mourners below 50, including family members.
He added that social gatherings such as weddings and parties were still not permitted.
“Let us be responsible citizens by reporting those who are flouting the lockdown regulations to law-enforcement agencies,” he said.
Kaunda also urged employers to allow older people or people with underlying health conditions to work from home.