Gauteng health dept says it is not conducting mass coronavirus screenings at this stage

2020-03-16 21:33
3D art based in microscope images of the corona virus from the 2020 outbreak in Wuhan, China

3D art based in microscope images of the corona virus from the 2020 outbreak in Wuhan, China (Getty Images)

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While panic grips the country following President Cyril Ramaphosa's declaration that the coronavirus outbreak is a national disaster, the Gauteng health department says that it will not be conducting mass screenings at this stage.

This comes after members of the public flocked to Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital to have themselves screened for the deadly virus which first emerged in Wuhan, China. There were 62 confirmed cases in South Africa at the time of publication.

A 33-year-old who wanted to remain anonymous, told News24 on Monday that she was "turned away" when she approached the hospital on Monday to be tested after she experienced some symptoms.

"I am experiencing a fever, my lungs are sore and I have a sore throat. So I went in and the doctor said she cannot do the test on me because I did not have direct contact with any of the confirmed cases," she told News24.

"I am now driving back home because I do not have R1 200 to pay for a [private] lab test," she said.

Spokesperson for the health department, Kwara Kekana, said specialised public hospitals were guided by NICD criteria when dealing with suspected cases.

READ | Coronavirus: 4 points on Monday's address from Ramaphosa

"You need to show symptoms or have direct contact with a confirmed case in order to be tested. There [are] criteria that will be helping us to be able to determine suspicious cases," Kekana said.

The department said its Emergency Medical Services (EMS) lines have been inundated with calls from the public.

The department urged members of the public to approach their local GPs who have the authority to refer them.

"The academic hospitals are specialised facilities. Members of the public must go to our local clinics or their local GP first," Kekana said.

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Read more on:    johannesburg  |  coronavirus
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