WATCH: These are the 67 mobile testing units deployed for SA's Covid-19 busting efforts
By Lou-Anne Daniels Apr 1, 2020
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Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize has launched 67 mobile units which will be used for Covid-19 sampling and testing in Sandringham, Johannesburg, on Wednesday.
The National Health Laboratory Services, which previously had seven units at its disposal, procured 60 new units in response to the dire need for increased coronavirus testing after the country's infection rate topped 1 000 during the first day of the 21-day national lockdown.
The mobile units will enable healthcare workers and field testers to reach smaller villages and conduct testing on residents who do not have access to the facilities in the country's urban centres.
The minister was briefed on the specialised equipment which will be on board the units, which include computers which will relay information in real time to the
National Health Laboratory Services.
Mkhize said that initially the units, which his department hopes to roll out next week, will test for Covid-19 using the traditional PCR laboratory methods but that he was hopeful that the country would soon procure rapid testing kits which would enable more people to be screened and tested in a shorter period of time.
Disposal gowns, masks and gloves as well as face shields will be utilised by the medical professionals who will accompany the thousands of field testers government aims to deploy.
According to the minister, the mobile units will increase government's testing capacity, which is currently at 5000 tests in 24 hours in 10 laboratories countrywide, to 80 000 tests in 24 hours.
"A list of priority districts (where the mobile units will be deployed) will be identified by MECs in a teleconference tonight," Mkhize said.
"In light of the increasing incidence of Covid-19 local transmissions, it has become necessary to scale up the capacity of testing citizens across the country. To this end The National Health Laboratory Service has procured 60 mobile sampling and testing units to be deployed nationwide to all districts and metropolitan municipalities," the NCID said earlier on Wednesday.
The mobile units are being rolled out as apart of a mass screening and testing initiative announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa earlier this week.
"Around 10,000 field workers will be visiting homes in villages, towns and cities to screen residents for Covid-19 symptoms. People with symptoms will be referred to local clinics or mobile clinics for testing.
"People who are infected with coronavirus but who have no or moderate symptoms will remain in isolation at home or at a facility provided by the government and those with severe symptoms will be transferred to hospitals," Ramaphosa said in a televised speech on Monday.