Coronavirus in SA: Gauteng health dept enhances app to help with screenings

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The Gauteng health department hopes the addition of a new icon to its mobile app, Mpilo, will help it in its fight against the coronavirus.

The enhancement to the app comes after it emerged that seven people tested positive for the virus in South Africa.

Health MEC Bandile Masuku announced the move on Tuesday during a post State of the Province (SOPA) media briefing at the Gauteng legislature.

The platform, Mpilo: Healthcare in Your Hands, was launched in 2019 and is aimed at improving patient experience at public healthcare facilities.

The icon allows members of the community to screen themselves and provide relevant information in the process.

"Based on the responses provided, the system will trigger an alert for users based on applicable criteria.

"We hope that this will assist with establishing trends in certain areas we need to look out for. We encourage everyone to download this platform, currently available on iOS and Android. The feature will be ready by end of the week," Masuku said.

Cell C has agreed to have the application zero-rated on its network, Masuku added.

He called on other network providers to join hands with Cell C.

Designated hospitals

The department has also established a multi-sectoral co-ordination team, tasked with co-ordinating a heightened response to the emergency.

"We want to acknowledge the work of all health workers and staff of [the Gauteng Department of Health] who have been in the frontline thus far in responding to the fight against the Covid-19 virus. The designated hospitals for isolation in Gauteng are Charlotte Maxeke [Johannesburg] Academic Hospital, the Steve Biko Academic Hospital as well as the Tembisa [Provincial] Tertiary Hospital." 

Masuku said appropriate clothing was also offered to hospitals for protection. 

He said it was satisfied with the testing of the patient who tested positive for Covid-19 on her return from Italy. She was admitted to the Charlotte Maxeke hospital and it was hoped she would be discharged later in the week. 

The MEC also appealed to communities to refrain from spreading fake news, adding that the office of Minister of Health Zweli Mkhize would be the main source of information about confirmed cases.

On Monday, Grayston Preparatory School in Sandton closed its doors, following concerns that one of its teachers had contact with 10 people who recently returned from Italy. Seven people in the group of 10 have tested positive for the coronavirus.

Masuku said the department would offer public education to provide guidelines on what steps a principal should follow when deciding to close a school, if there is a suspected case. 

He added that they would also offer support to educators so that they are aware of which measures to take. 

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