WATCH | Inside the Covid-19 testing unit: What to expect when getting tested

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The Western Cape health department rolled out its Covid-19 community screening and testing initiative on Monday, 6 April.

It included mobile, door-to-door screening and testing by trained field workers and "pop-up" clinics in public facilities, run by trained medical staff.

News24 visited the special Covid-19 unit at the Bishop Lavis Community Health Centre where head doctor Mumtaz Abbas gave a step-by-step breakdown of what patients can expect.

"Any patient who has a fever, cough, sore throat or shortness of breath...will be sent across to this area for testing," Abbas said.

The reception clerk will open a folder for the patient and the nurses, sitting an appropriate distance from the patient, will fill out four forms: a person under investigation form, a specimen collection form, a contact line list form and a lab form.

When the patient is ready for testing, Dr Abbas dons her personal protective equipment, which includes a plastic apron, a blue gown, double gloves, a N95 mask, and a visor or goggles.

The patient's forms are folded and put into one of two sleeves in a biohazard bag.

The clinician will then label two samples with the patient's details.  Once the two samples – a nasopharyngeal swab and an oropharyngeal swab – have been taken, they are sealed and put into the other sleeve of the biohazard bag, which is then placed in an ice container.

"We insert the swab directly backwards, following the floor of the nose until we hit a bit of resistance. We measure the distance from the nose to the ear and that's the distance that we basically have to go in and we go backwards, so you're not going up, you're not pointing down but you are going directly backwards. Then we turn the swab three times," said Abbas.

The patient will receive a daily monitoring sheet to monitor their symptoms, a patient information leaflet on how to self-isolate at home, a list of dos and don'ts, and a letter for their employer to inform them that they have been tested and need to remain home for 14 days.

The patient will be contacted with their results within two to three days Abbas said. 

Cashier Douglas Tshunza-Lubamba, who had just undergone testing, said while it wasn't what he expected, it was "nice, quick and easy".

"It was not painful. I can say that. But it makes you uncomfortable," he said.

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