Covid-19: Gauteng health dept to conduct antibody survey to measure infection rate

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A News24 staffer gets a Covid-19 antibody test.
A News24 staffer gets a Covid-19 antibody test.
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  • The Gauteng health department will be conducting an antibody survey.
  • 3 500 households can expect a visit from a health professional.
  • The antibody survey will measure the infection rate in the province.

The Department of Health in Gauteng is conducting an antibody survey to measure the extent of Covid-19 infections in the province.

"There are many people in Gauteng who possibly had Covid-19, but were never counted as Covid-19 cases because they were never tested," spokesperson Kwara Kekana said in a statement.

"The survey will assist government to better understand how the virus is spreading throughout the Gauteng population over time and to be able to put adequate response measures to stop its further spread," she added.

READ | Health Minister Zweli Mkhize confirms Covid-19 antibody tests are now legal

As a result, health professionals will be visiting 3 500 households and targeting 14 000 people across the province between November and December 2020.

The test will be done by pricking the person's finger to take a few drops of blood, which will be sent to a laboratory for testing.

Test

"This is done to identify people in the population of the province who have antibodies against Covid-19. Antibody test results can provide information about previous infections in people who had or did not have any symptoms of the virus," Kekana explained.

Acting Health MEC Jacob Mamobolo says this study is key to the province's efforts to contain the spread of the virus as well as getting an estimate of who has been infected, where they are based and the trajectory of the virus.

"When we have such information at our disposal, we will be able to make appropriate decisions in response to the pandemic, taking into consideration government's limited resources," he said.

The government has urged residents to cooperate and support the antibody survey.

Residents should note that health professionals will be visiting their homes only during the day, will be wearing a uniform and carrying identification tags.

The antibody survey is conducted in partnership with the Medical Research Council's VIDA Research Unit, the University of Pretoria and the University of the Witwatersrand.

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