FF Plus concerned about ineffective Covid-19 screening process
19 May 2020
The FF Plus is concerned about the Covid-19 screening process currently being carried out in communities. The most effective way to combat the Covid-19 pandemic is by means of accurate screening, testing, tracking, tracing and isolation.
It, however, appears that field workers are not performing these processes correctly. If the screening process is not executed thoroughly, the data on which the decisions are based with regard to the handling and combating of the virus are lacking.
The screening process must include questions about whether an individual had in the last 14 days been in contact with someone who had tested positive for Covid-19 and whether the individual is experiencing symptoms, such as a fever, a cough and diarrhoea. After obtaining the answers to these questions, the field worker is supposed to scan the individual's forehead to determine whether he / she has a fever.
This was, however, not what happened when field workers arrived at the home of Philip van Staden, an FF Plus Member of Parliament. The field workers merely enquired how many people there were in the residence and maintained a distance while asking the individuals various questions, including their personal details. No-one's temperature was taken.
The field workers' actions raise various burning questions: were they properly trained to perform this task, do they have the equipment they need to measure people's temperature, what impact does their data capturing have on the daily statistics and how many people who were not scanned are indeed positive, but were not tested?
The goal of the screening process is to detect cases of the virus in communities and to take the necessary steps to ensure that a person who is likely positive is referred to the nearest clinic or hospital to be tested for Covid-19. Another aim is to ensure that people who do test positive are placed in isolation in order to prevent the spread of the virus.
The Minister of Health and his Department must make sure that field workers are properly trained and have the equipment they need before they are sent into communities to perform their screening duties. The lockdown and its restrictions are useless if screening and testing processes are not carried out effectively.
Issued by Philip van Staden, FF Plus MP and chief spokesperson: Health, 19 May 2020