Western Cape’s Covid-19 testing backlog hits 18 000, warns Winde

Calls on the president and health minister to urgently address the national backlog in testing.
Western Cape Premier, Alan Winde, being tested by a healthworker for Covid-19 in early April. Image: @AlanWinde / Twitter

Western Cape Premier Alan Winde has raised serious concerns about the escalating backlog of Covid-19 testing, not just in his province, but countrywide.

Winde on Monday said that the backlog in the Western Cape has now grown to around 18 000 tests and called on President Cyril Ramaphosa and Health Minister Zweli Mkhize to address the issue urgently.

Despite the Western Cape and Cape Town being seen as epicentres of the Covid-19 pandemic in South Africa, the peak of the virus is only expected around July and August.

The province is home to almost 15 400 of SA’s more than 23 600 confirmed Covid-19 cases. Cape Town’s metro accounts for more than 13 000 cases, however around half are active cases and the balance recoveries.

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According to latest statistics released by Mkhize on Monday night, the Western Cape now accounts for 330 of SA’s 481 coronavirus-linked deaths. The country had a record 52 deaths over a 24-hour period, with 49 of these in the Western Cape. Mkhize’s figures are different to those of Winde, who reported 318 virus-linked deaths in his province as at 1pm on Monday.

“A total of 124 079 tests have been completed in the Western Cape – representing a 400% increase in the number of tests conducted in the province since 25 April. This increase in testing in the Western Cape and in other provinces has resulted in a considerable backlog in the processing of these tests and in the release of their results by the National Health Laboratory Services [NHLS],” the premier noted in a statement.

Source: National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD)/ Department of Health

Winde said the NHLS is a national entity, but that the Western Cape has previously written to both Ramaphosa and Mkhize regarding the backlogs. He added that the backlogs create considerable delays in people receiving their test results.

“During his recent visit to the Western Cape, Minister Mkhize indicated that the delays were due to shortages of reagents and test kits which are being experienced world-wide. The backlog in the Western Cape has now grown to approximately 18 000 tests,” he said.

“We once again call on both the president and Minister Mkhize to move as quickly as possible to ensure that the NHLS is provided with the resources it so urgently requires and that testing across the country can continue unhindered.”

Winde pointed out that in the absence of a rapid-test solution, priority is being given to testing healthcare workers, those in hospital and those at high risk including the elderly and people with underlying conditions. This is in order “to ensure the most efficient way of managing the curve” of the disease, which he noted is now in the “community transmission” phase.

Ramaphosa is expected to visit the Western Cape and meet Winde sometime over the next week regarding the Covid-19 situation. the president’s planned tour of the province two weeks ago was postponed after Winde had to go into self-quarantine, following the premier coming into close contact with a cameraman with Covid-19, who later died from the virus.

Read: Western Cape premier goes into precautionary self-quarantine



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CR gave test kits away yesterday to 20 odd African countries.

Surly it means we had spare to give away.

Have we received test kits from other countries to test their people in our country?

Hey CR just cant go through life without giving free stuff away. The “free stuff” is normally not his to give away.

western Cape not regarded as African…

I don’t like this guy since he came into power he has been behaving like Panyaza or Trump

Would you prefer Zuma or Magashule?

Let me say someone more mature like many of us who are no longer in their 20s

yes, because the only choice between one joke is another right?

Or you can have our premier (of NW), Prof Job Mokgoro instead(?)

As proof, NW is a leading province in technology, infrastructure, tourism, highest levels of service delivery, almost zero corruption. (We just hide it from plain sight….all secretly hidden cities under the mielie fields & dusty streets)

“Payaso” lesufi. Never know he was Spanish?

Triggered. The one name a certain pariah community can spell correctly!

WHO solution to the epidemic is testing,testing,testing…. The country has had breathing space to get its ducks in row. However, we seem to have stumbled at this first and important hurdle. Is the excuse acceptable ?

Whatevet the WHO solution is to anything. The answer is: DO NOT DO IT!

Western Cape – so much winning

The problem with the Western Cape is that they are far too honest for their own good. Now that they have admitted to being straight the ANC will move their cadres in under disaster law and take over so that things can be more like everywhere else. Now all provinces can be equally bankrupt due to the same reason and uniformity will arrive.

Winning or Whining ??

Haven’t you heard? They have it under control and are so well governed that they are ready to go to level minus 3.

The W/Cape being “epicentre” must be half-truth. The virus is on a national visit to SA, and it is scheduled to peak in each province as follows:

Currently WC, Gauteng

June – July it will visit EC & KN, and move the epicentre over there.

Sept – October, the epicentre with move to FS, Limpopo, Mpumalanga.

Since us in NW (and NC) are always left out forgotten & come last, we should hopefully expect Covid-19’s provincial visit peaking by us at around Christmas.

Still uncertain? Ask the virus. The virus is easily reachable as it has a physical address on a map.

…the physical address of virus located at the Union Buildings, Government Avenue…code 0002, and also at 54 Pixley Ka Isaka Seme St, Jo’burg) 😉

It would be nice if a few first world countries could send us a million kits and a few planes equipped as labs . I see some countries like Denmark are now opening testing to anybody that wants : no screening, no nothing. Turnaround is next day. we are wasting our time and test kits with our ten day turnaround. By then the person has died, is better and/or has infected fifty others.

I believe we are hamstrung because our Cepheid GeneXpert machines require the proprietary test kits from Cepheid in the US which are in short supply. Otherwise we could be doing tests at distributed sites with those in about 45 mins. Some of those machines take 80 test cartridges at a time.
When stretched the UK flew 50,000 tests from Stansted airport to the US to get completed. Since China is such a good buddy of ours and can seemingly scale to 1M tests a day when required why not ship 10,000-20,000 tests a day to China for a month or two?

What I’m missing is how the provinces stack up against one another in terms of efficiency. I’m not seeing tests conducted as a percentage of total population. Thus, assuming that MAYBE the Western Cape were more efficient in measuring folks, then they would probably have a higher likelihood of a higher percentage of infected cases. So if less is measured, it can’t be said there are less of a pandemic. Absence of evidence, is not evidence of absence.

End of comments.





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