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COVID-19:SA has over 29,000 cases,NHLS explains backlog of over 80,000 specimens

The national death toll now stands at 611 while 15,093 people have recovered.

FILE: Medical swabs to test for the coronavirus. Picture: Kayleen Morgan/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG – With 29,240 cases of COVID-19 now reported the National Health Laboratory Service (NHLS) has moved to explain why thousands of tests have still not been processed.

The national death toll now stands at 611 while 15,093 people have recovered.

The health department has conducted more than 680,000 tests so far.

NHLS chief executive officer Dr Kamy Chetty was speaking as part of a media conference with Minister Zweli Mkhize on Friday night.

She said that as of this week, there were thousands of unprocessed specimens.

“As of 28 May, the number of unprocessed specimens was about 83,000 and despite the national increase in the number of tests that we were performing in the NHLS.”

Chetty explained the reason for the backlog.

“It’s not a normal demand and supply issue. We normally order kits we determine the number of test we want, place an order with the supplier and the supplier delivers. But we have a problem with high throughput test kits, which had only been approved in March by the FDA and because of that there is a production issue.”

She said they had rapidly stepped up their testing, but demand has been huge.

“You can see in March we did 6,000 tests, in April there was a huge jump we went to 94,000 tests and in May alone we’ve done about 232,000 tests. Despite that], the number of samples that we received exceeded the capacity that we had and that’s why we ended up with a number of tests that are unprocessed.”