DA reiterates call for increased testing in NCape – Andrew Louw

425 183 people screened, but only 1 220 tests have been done

DA reiterates call for increased testing in NC

29 April 2020

In spite of a high level of screening for Coronavirus in the Northern Cape, the Democratic Alliance (DA) remains concerned about the low level of tests being conducted in the province.

While the latest figures presented by the provincial health department show that the number of tests in the province has picked up, the rate of testing remains slow with the total number of tests only having increased from about 900 at the end of last week to 1220. This is in comparison to screening, which currently stands at 425 183 people screened. While screening is important, it is not the same as testing.

We can only wonder what has happened to the roll-out of the promised national mass testing campaign in the Northern Cape, especially in light of the fact that the province has received a number of mobile laboratories from the National Health Laboratory Service (NHLS)? Also, since the mass screening and testing campaign in Sol Plaatje municipality was cancelled almost two weeks ago, the public has not received information on the resumption of this campaign in the capital municipality in Kimberley.

According to reports about the latest positive case number 17 in Upington, the person who tested positive does not know how or where he contracted the virus. If this is indeed true, this should be cause for alarm as it could signify that community spread is indeed hard at work in the province. The bottom line therefore is that the current number of tests done is not enough to gauge the true extent of the disease in the province and to rule out the threat of rampant local transmissions.

In contrast to the Northern Cape, the Western Cape has conducted close to 30 000 tests. While this has significantly bumped up their positive cases and placed them as the epicenter of the virus in the country, it has also given them the advantage of being able to better understand the spread of the virus within their communities and in turn controlling this spread.

If the Northern Cape doesn’t increase our testing capacity to better understand infection and reproduction rates in our communities, the provincial health care system may be caught off guard with a sudden spike in cases when least expected.

The DA is therefore reiterating our call for ramped up testing in the Northern Cape.

Increased testing capacity is one of the most effective ways through which the province can beat this pandemic and no price tag should be placed on testing. It may cost more now, but it will undoubtedly save lives and livelihoods later.

The DA appreciates the fact that the provincial Health Department today shared a summary of tests done, people screened, as well as a breakdown of cases per district and recoveries. We call on MEC MaseManopole to have her department continue sharing these types of figures with all the people of the Northern Cape on a regular basis. We also ask her to provide additional updates on how many of the positive cases, if any, have been admitted to hospitals and placed on ventilators.

In the war against Covid-19, there is no doubt that knowledge is power and much more must be done to gather accurate data on the state of the invisible enemy in the Northern Cape.

Issued by Andrew Louw,DA Northern Cape Provincial Leader, 29 April 2020