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SA's Covid-19 mass testing: GeneXpert machines gives results in 45 minutes

31 March 2020 7:41 AM
Tags:
Coronavirus
COVID-19
Covid-19 testing

NHLS will be able to process approximately 36 000 tests in 24 hours by the end of April.

We are entering a new phase of the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, President Cyril Ramaphosa told the nation on Monday evening.

In the coming days, government will be rolling out a screening, testing, tracing and medical management programme on a huge scale. Around 10,000 field workers at the moment will be visiting homes in villages, towns, and cities to screen residents for the coronavirus symptoms.

President Cyril Ramaphosa

People with symptoms will be referred to local clinics or mobile clinics for testing. People who are infected with the coronavirus but who have no or moderate symptoms will remain in isolation at home or at a facility provided by government but those with severe symptoms will be sent to hospital.

President Cyril Ramaphosa

Right now the National Health Laboratory Services (NHLS) has six laboratories performing Covid-19 tests. This number will increase to nine by April.

The NHLS has so far had the capacity to process 5 000 samples in 24 hours. This number will increase to 15 000 in 24 hours in April. By the end of April, the NHLS will be able to process approximately 36 000 tests in 24 hours.

Laura Lopez Gonzales, deputy editor of Bhekisisa Centre for Health Journalism, talks to Refilwe Moloto about the ramped-up testing capabilities in South Africa.

We are certainly seeing some positive moves in terms of ramping up testing which is really what the experts are saying we need to do now.

Laura Lopez Gonzales, Deputy editor - Bhekisisa Centre for Health Journalism

180 GeneXpert analysing machines are available across the country which sees results in 45 minutes.

Earlier this week the National Laboratory Health Services (NLHS) announced that it would be starting to use a 45-minute test for the new coronavirus. This works on machines called GeneXperts and we actually have a ton of them in South Africa because we use them for Tuberculosis testing.

Laura Lopez Gonzales, Deputy editor - Bhekisisa Centre for Health Journalism

Tests can also now be done from mobile sites and not just one of the six labs around South Africa.

These coffee-sized machines can even be put onto mobile labs. With TB they really revolutionsed the game, they hands-down changed our response and it is really positive they looking to change the Covid-19 testing.

Laura Lopez Gonzales, Deputy editor - Bhekisisa Centre for Health Journalism

The widespread screening will begin taking place as field workers make their way to South African homes across the country as President Ramaphosa explained, she said.

We will see ramped up screening which is a little bit different from testing.

Laura Lopez Gonzales, Deputy editor - Bhekisisa Centre for Health Journalism

Listen to the interview below:


31 March 2020 7:41 AM
Tags:
Coronavirus
COVID-19
Covid-19 testing

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