Screening ‘starts small’

2020-04-07 06:00
Screening will be conducted door-to-door by field workers using simple verbal questions to identify people who may require testing.

Screening will be conducted door-to-door by field workers using simple verbal questions to identify people who may require testing.

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The Western Cape government health started with the roll-out of community screening and testing for Covid-19 on Monday 6 April.

According to the provincial government, the first community screening and testing started in Bishop Lavis, Kwanonqaba (Mossel Bay), and Mbekweni (Cape Winelands) on Monday and in Bo-Kaap and Philippi today (7 April).

The roll-out is scheduled to start in Khayelitsha – Town2 and Ilitha Park – and Happy Valley tomorrow. 

“We must ensure that our vulnerable communities are screened and tested in greater numbers to ensure our people are protected against the spread of the Covid-19 disease,” said Dr Nomafrench Mbombo, provincial minister of health.

Dr Keith Cloete, the head of the department of health, said the province would identify and focus on areas where locally transmitted cases pose the biggest risk for community transmissions.

“We call those polygons. It is a local area around where the person who has the condition. We will go to the households around the cases where there are already documented local transmissions.” 

Cloete said they were starting small. He said by going in small, they would be able to set up the logistics: what it entails to get into an area, what kind of identification will be required and how to let people know of upcoming operations.

A statement released by the department of health on Sunday 5 April said screening would be conducted door-to-door by field workers using simple verbal questions to identify people who may require testing.

“Health workers will ask health questions aimed at screening for symptoms (a sore throat, a cough) or fever screening will either be done via community health workers visiting your home, or mobile units in your area (for example gazebos).”

Testing would be done if the questions indicate that you required a further test.

The health worker would refer you to the closest testing centre.

The test would be done by taking a swab from your nose and throat. This would either be done in a clinic, or in a mobile parked in your area.

Test results would not be immediately available but patients would be followed up and advised of their status.

Cloete said community health workers would assist with the screening questions because they are already known to local households.

“We have an existing relationship with more than 3 600 community health workers in this province. We currently employ them via NPOs. In our contractual agreement with the NPOs, the community health workers do call community-based work all the time, so they have a presence in homes, they visit people.” 

Cloete said the City would provide them with a medical mask in conjunction with the policy within the department. 

“We are not asking the community health workers in this campaign to come into physical contact with anybody who is potentially Covid-19 (positive) or who is known Covid-19. We are asking them to maintain their physical distance and to observe hygiene like we ask anybody else.”

The department asks residents to please welcome health workers when screening.

Information provided on the Western Cape government’s website states: “If you are concerned about letting them into your home, politely inform them that you are happy to answer all their questions from a safe social distance (through a gate or window).”

Cloete said the department was aware of scams that have been doing the rounds, of criminals pretending to be assisting with door-to-door screenings

To reassure communities, Cloete said they would announce in which areas the screenings would be taking place before sending in screening and testing teams, and all field workers would be clearly identifiable.

Premier Alan Winde added that once the City had clarity on where the screenings were going to take place, the municipal joint operations committee (JOC) of that area would be informed beforehand as well as its ward councillor.

“We will make sure, from a security point of view, people know it is coming to their area.”

  • For assistance, contact your local NGO or health worker or call the national hotline on 0800 029 999 or the provincial hotline on 021 928 4102. Alternatively, WhatsApp “hi” to 0600 123 456. All lines are operational 24/7.
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