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Western Cape govt expands its COVID-19 testing criteria

The new testing rules included all people with symptoms, and the pre-operative testing of asymptomatic patients awaiting surgery.

FILE: Western Cape Premier Alan Winde. Picture: Twitter.

CAPE TOWN - Western Cape Premier Alan Winde on Thursday said while there was reliable evidence that coronavirus infections in the province were still declining, It did not mean people should let their guard down.

The premier again stressed preventative measures like wearing masks in public, social distancing, and washing hands regularly should still be top of mind.

“If you are experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms, you must ensure that you quarantine yourself, and avoid contact with other people until you have been tested,” Winde said in a statement.

The provincial government expanded its COVID-19 testing criteria. The new testing rules included all people with symptoms, and the pre-operative testing of asymptomatic patients awaiting surgery.

It also included health care workers and people who had previously tested positive but had developed new symptoms 90 days after their first test.

“In September, testing was expanded further, to include pre-op patients (asymptomatic), natural deaths at home as well as symptomatic public sector essential workers, prisoners, learners, and school staff and workers in workplaces. Throughout this period, the laboratories have coped with capacity and we have therefore taken the decision to further expand testing,” Winde said.

He added: “Non-metro areas were not subject to the risk-adjusted testing strategy and testing for all symptomatic people has continued throughout.

“The expansion of testing criteria in September saw an increase in the number of tests being conducted in the Western Cape, however, the average test positivity rate for the province has remained below 10%. This, coupled with other indicators such as the number of deaths, hospitalisations, and oxygen consumption (which currently stands at 38% of total capacity), gives us reliable evidence that infections in the province are still declining.”

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