WESTERN CAPE NEWS - The Western Cape Government has expanded its COVID-19 testing criteria so that anyone in the Cape Metro and rural regions of the province, who is symptomatic, will be tested.
The new testing criteria includes:
- All people with coronavirus symptoms.
- Pre-operative testing of coronavirus asymptomatic patients awaiting surgery.
- Natural deaths occurring at home who had coronavirus symptoms.
- Health care workers.
- Persons who previously tested positive, but have developed new symptoms (90 days after their first test).
In July, the Western Cape introduced the risk-adjusted testing strategy in the metro region due to severe testing backlogs being experienced by the National Health Laboratory Service. This was to ensure that testing was focused on those who were at the highest risk.
In September, testing was expanded further to include pre-op patients (asymptomatic), natural deaths at home as well as symptomatic public sector essential workers, prisoners, learners and school staff and workers in workplaces.
"Throughout this period, the laboratories have coped with capacity and we have therefore taken the decision to further expand testing," explains Premier Alan Winde.
Non-metro areas were not subject to the risk adjusted testing strategy and testing for all symptomatic people has continued throughout.
The expansion of testing criteria in September saw an increase in the number of tests being conducted in the Western Cape, however, the average test positivity rate for the province has remained below 10%.
This, coupled with other indicators such as the number of deaths, hospitalisations, and oxygen consumption (which currently stands at 38% of total capacity), gives us reliable evidence that infections in the province are still declining.
"This does not mean that we can let our guard down, and prevention measures such as mask wearing, social distancing, and hand and surface hygiene continue to be important as we move forward," says Winde.
"There are no reliable tools which would help us to predict the likelihood, location or timing of a resurgence of COVID-19, and ongoing surveillance is key to helping us identify and understand emerging trends. The expanded testing criteria will allow us to more accurately track and manage infections in the province.
"If you are experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms, you must ensure that you quarantine yourself, and avoid contact with other people until you have been tested.
"Patients with diabetes who test positive will be contacted by our VECTOR team, who will monitor your condition and who may suggest admission into a hospital facility for monitoring purposes. This team has since its launch in July, recorded excellent results in ensuring the recovery of high risk, COVID-19 patients in the province.
"We also continue to offer hospital care for COVID-19 patients at the Hospital of Hope in Brackengate which has sufficient capacity to care for over 300 people. Currently, there are 23 patients admitted there."
Winde added: "Careful case management and responsible behaviour by each and every one of us can help ensure the continued decline in COVID-19 cases in the province. Slowing the spread of COVID-19, are important to our recovery, as we must save jobs, and protect businesses and our economy."