Covid-19 testing officially becomes safer

2020-05-12 06:00
A clinician from Gugulethu Community Health Centre receiving a test swab from her assistant nurse.

A clinician from Gugulethu Community Health Centre receiving a test swab from her assistant nurse.

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Five innovative hygiene booths aimed at eliminating the contact between health workers and potential patients under investigation for Covid-19 have been launched at local healthcare facilities.

These facilities service vulnerable communities such as Gugulethu, Phillipi, Mitchell’s Plain, Athlone and Nyanga, among others.

Dr Keith Cloete, head of the provincial health department, says these locations were chosen to pilot these booths as they service high-density areas where many people are expected to be tested.

The booths are designed to ensure zero exposure between the patient and the tester, and can be quickly disinfected between patients.

“Our staff are less at risk from contracting the Coronavirus when testing because the health worker inside the booth is not in direct contact with the patient when conducting the nasal swab, they do not use additional personal protective equipment (PPE) beyond standard exam gloves and surgical masks which saves vital supply of items, including N95 masks, face shields and gowns,” says Zethu Xapile, primary health care manager for the Klipfontein and Mitchell’s Plain area.

The sterile booth is completely enclosed, with gloves mounted which enable the health worker to collect a sample and package it for testing without direct contact with the sample or the person being tested.

The booths were donated to the health department by Arm in Arm in Africa, an organisation from the United States of America (USA).

“We are keenly aware of the everyday living conditions in the townships, and recognise that the virus exponentially adds to the healthcare challenge. We salute the Western Cape government health and support the good work being done for the communities,” says Pat Dawson, executive director for Arm in Arm in Africa.

The organisation has been doing humanitarian relief in Mitchell’s Plain and Gugulethu since 2000.

Cloete says the department hopes to roll out the booths to other community facilities offering testing.

“We are evaluating the effectiveness (of these booths). It is very innovative and depending on the effectiveness and how easy it is to use, we are thinking of rolling it out based on (these results),” he says.

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