Health Dept ‘aware’ of significant backlog in processing COVID-19 tests

There have been delays, especially at some private laboratories, due to pressure caused by the increasing workload.

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize. Picture: Abigail Javier/EWN.

CAPE TOWN - The Department of Health said it was aware there was a significant backlog in processing COVID-19 tests.

There have been delays, especially at some private laboratories, due to pressure caused by the increasing workload.

South Africa has more than 1,000 confirmed coronavirus cases.

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According to the department, 28,537 COVID-19 tests have been conducted thus far.

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said he was pleased the National Health Laboratory Service has increased its testing facilities, which would help with the backlog.

At this stage, there are five laboratories at academic hospitals in the country.

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These include the Inkosi Albert Luthuli Hospital in Durban, Charlotte Maxeke Academic Hospital in Johannesburg, Universitas Academic Hospital in Bloemfontein and Tygerberg and Groote Schuur Hospitals in Cape Town. These are in addition to a lab at the National Institute for Communicable Diseases.

Mkhize said there were currently seven mobile testing laboratories and from next month, there would be a total of 47, which would be spread throughout the country.

He said by the end of April, laboratories would be able to conduct 30,000 tests per day if required.

To track the latest developments around the coronavirus both in South Africa and abroad, click on this live status report from Strategix.