Msawenkosi Gumede, 44, was in the first group of people who were tested for Covid-19 in Umlazi yesterday. Picture: Zanele Zulu / African News Agency (ANA)
Msawenkosi Gumede, 44, was in the first group of people who were tested for Covid-19 in Umlazi yesterday. Picture: Zanele Zulu / African News Agency (ANA)

Covid-19 home screening and testing has trial run in uMlazi

By Tribune Reporters Time of article published Apr 5, 2020

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Durban – The next step in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic was taken yesterday, with the government’s tracing, home screening and testing programme unveiled in uMlazi, south of Durban.

The initiative was in keeping with the pledge made by President Cyril Ramaphosa when he addressed the nation on Monday and promised a large-scale medical management programme.

Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu, KZN’s MEC for Health, and her department chose uMlazi for the pilot project as schoolteacher Tholakele Shandu, who succumbed to the virus, hailed from the neighbourhood.

Professor Gita Ramjee of Westville, was another Durban Covid-19 casualty this week, and she travelled from London recently.

The other deaths recorded in KZN this week includes an 80-year-old man and an 81-year-old woman, a former resident of the Bill Buchanan retirement village.

According to the statement released by Health Minister Zweli Mkhize, there were 1 585 infected persons and nine recorded deaths, six of which are from KwaZulu-Natal.

Musa Gumede was among the first group of people who were traced and tested in uMlazi yesterday.

Although the 44-year-old Gumede from Q-section showed no symptoms of the coronavirus, he volunteered to be screened and tested as Shandu, who died on Tuesday had been his neighbour.

She was buried on Friday and her funeral was attended by only family and close relatives.

Gumede, who did not attend her funeral, said he wanted to be tested because Shandu’s death scared him. The teacher was a dear friend of his for nearly 40 years.

He said Shandu’s death had “opened his eyes” about the coronavirus.

Simelane-Zulu said yesterday’s visit was used to determine how best the programme could be implemented.

She said the screening process was used to determine whether testing was required.

“We are moving from household to household screening family members. The aim is to be proactive and nip the virus in the bud before people are stigmatised for showing symptoms. The deceased’s family have been heavily stigmatised since Shandu’s death.”

Simelane-Zulu said the virus could infect anyone and everyone if people refused to take the necessary precautions.

She said the important thing was to wash one’s hands, be mindful of touching surfaces, and adhering to social distancing requirements to reduce the spread of the virus.

She said the new mobile units supplied by the national department of health would be dispatched during the launch, which is still to be confirmed.

In yesterday’s trial, run seven teams targeted 30 homes.

The test comprises a nasopharyngeal swab of the throat and nose and results take 24 hours.

In a statement issued by the Presidency last night, Ramaphosa said to 5400 field workers have been trained and deployed across the country.

“Priority districts and 993 wards have been identified, composed of the most vulnerable communities as well areas with high rates of infections. Provinces are working with the National Health Laboratory services to identify mobile and fixed test facilities,” said Ramaphosa

He said government had received early warning of potential clusters of infection and it was deploying preemptive targeted testing in identified areas.

Durban also drew coronavirus related headlines on Friday when St Augustine’s Hospital shut their emergency department and stopped all new admissions.

Three patients with the Covid-19 virus died at the Glenwood private healthcare facility this week.

Dr Richard Friedland, Netcare Group’s chief executive, said they did not have a history of recent international travel or known contact with persons who were Covid-19 positive, nor did they present with any symptoms of the virus when they were screened on admission.

“This situation prompted Netcare and Netcare St Augustine’s Hospital, in close collaboration with the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health, to take the precautionary decision to test all healthcare and support workers who may have come into contact with the three patients for Covid-19 infection,” said Friedland.

On Thursday, Netcare increased the level of screening and testing of nursing, support and contracted staff, doctors, paramedics, as well as patients at the hospital. This was to determine whether they were clear of Covid-19 infection.

“The screening and testing will enable the hospital to isolate patients and hospital workers with suspected or confirmed Covid-19.

“It will also help facilitate the tracking of all persons who have been in contact with the healthcare workers or patients to ensure that they are tested and that they take the necessary precautionary measures to prevent the further infection,” said Friedland.

Sunday Tribune

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