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Source: South Africa News Agency

The Western Cape government is loosening criteria on testing for COVID-19, the province announced on Thursday. 

According to the province, anyone in the Cape Metro and the rural regions who are symptomatic will now be tested.

The new testing criteria also includes all people with Coronavirus symptoms and asymptomatic patients awaiting surgery. This also includes natural deaths of those showing signs of COVID-19 at home and healthcare workers.

The province will also cover people who previously tested positive, but have developed new symptoms 90 days after their first test.

“In July, the Western Cape introduced the risk-adjusted testing strategy in the metro region, due to severe testing backlogs being experienced by the National Health Laboratory Service. This was to ensure that testing was focused on those who were at the highest risk,” said the provincial government.

Last month, testing was expanded further, to include pre-op patients, natural deaths at home as well as symptomatic public sector essential workers, prisoners, learners and school staff and workers in workplaces. 

However, throughout this period, laboratories have been coping, hence the decision to increase the number of tests.  

According to the Western Cape government, non-metro areas were not subject to the risk-adjusted testing strategy and testing for all symptomatic people has continued throughout.

“The expansion of testing criteria in September 2020 saw an increase in the number of tests being conducted in the Western Cape, however, the average test positivity rate for the province has remained below 10.

 “This coupled with other indicators such as the number of deaths, hospitalisations, and oxygen consumption which currently stands at 38% of total capacity, gives us reliable evidence that infections in the province are still declining,” said the province.

While the number of infections is dropping, the province is encouraging people not to let their guard down and continue to take precaution.  

“There are no reliable tools which would help us to predict the likelihood, location or timing of a resurgence of COVID-19, and ongoing surveillance is key to helping us identify and understand emerging trends.”

The province believes that the increased testing criteria will allow officials to be able to accurately track and manage infections.

“If you are experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms, you must ensure that you quarantine yourself, and avoid contact with other people until you have been tested.”

In addition, patients with Diabetes who test positive will be contacted by the VECTOR ( Virtual Emergency Care Tactical Operation) team, which will monitor their condition and may suggest admission into a hospital facility.

The province said it will continue to offer hospital care for COVID-19 patients at the Hospital of Hope in Brackengate which has sufficient capacity to care for over 300 people which currently has 23 admissions. – SAnews.gov.za

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