President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that the government will begin a mass screening campaign for South Africa to fight the spread of the coronavirus. The current number of infections sits at 1,326 with 3 confirmed deaths.
With new equipment deliveries over the last few days, the government plans to send out 10 000 health workers to do house to house screenings. Those with no symptoms will remain in isolation in their home, those with mild symptoms would be referred to clinics for testing and those with severe symptoms will be transferred to hospital.
This is a significant change from the previous requirements for testing, which included showing advanced symptoms and being in contact with someone who had recently travelled to a high-risk country.
So far, the 36,000 people have been tested. Within the parameters of the previous testing requirements, this is significant but will increase once screening begins.
Increased testing is one significant way countries can “flatten the curve.” Introducing drive-through screening facilities in South Korea was part of their strategy to aggressively test, trace and treat the virus before it overwhelmed their health care facilities.
In his speech to the country, President Ramaphosa confirmed the new screening plan as being part of a campaign to identify those who may be infected.
“Using mobile technology, an extensive tracing system will be rapidly deployed to trace those who have been in contact with confirmed Coronavirus cases and to monitor the geographical location of new cases in real time,” he said.
While South Africa may not be able to keep up with South Korea, this pre-emptive testing strategy is likely to help avoid ending up like Italy.