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NHLS to prioritise WC for COVID-19 testing due to shortage in test kits

The Western Cape would get the most access as it accounted for 65% of the country’s almost 53,000 coronavirus cases.

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

CAPE TOWN - The National Health Laboratory Service (NHLS) on Wednesday said it was facing a big testing backlog due to a global shortage of testing kits.

The NHLS said it would have to prioritise the Western Cape due to the province’s high rate of infection.

The service briefed Parliament about challenges and plans to address them.

The Western Cape would get the most access as it accounted for 65% of the country’s almost 53,000 cases. The province also had the biggest testing backlog.

NHLS CEO Dr Karmani Chetty said they were expecting 15,000 test kits per day, but getting only 20,000 per week.

However, Chetty said the backlog was mainly in community screening and did not affect those in hospital.

“The hospital patients who are at risk and would need a clinical diagnosis, we make sure that they’re prioritised, so the battle does not impact on them,” she said.

Meanwhile, the Western Cape Health Department said prioritising high-risk individuals had helped ease the backlog.

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