The Eastern Cape has a huge backlog of more than 20,000 Covid 19 tests.
The 38 labs are struggling to cope with a plethora of samples coming in daily and a worldwide shortage of test kits.
Tabita Makula, area manager of the National Laboratory Health Services (NHLS), says the laboratories fell behind when the province began testing everyone, including those who did not show any Covid-19 symptoms.
On May 21, she wrote in a letter to the provincial portfolio committee for health in Bhisho:
“The lab’s backlog has started to build up due to changes in the testing strategy.
“The districts tested asymptomatic people. This has led to an increase in the number of samples received. “
Makula advised the committee to change the testing strategy.
“The laboratories get samples daily and there is no time to catch up.
The testing strategy or priorities for Covid-19 testing in the province must change. This will reduce the number of samples received and improve results. “
She says the NHLS has issued a letter empowering departments to send the Covid-19 samples of mass screening to the private sector and having priority samples tested.
Makula says 63,070 samples were taken, but only 41,712 tests could be completed.
“Test devices that could be used for priority samples were used to test asymptomatic patients.
The current system of prioritizing urgent samples should alleviate the problem, ”she says.