Lancet Laboratories says it is seeing an increasing number of people coming to test for COVID-19. About 116 people have so far tested positive for the coronavirus in South Africa.
The pathology services company says the spike in requests for tests came after President Cyril Ramaphosa declared the pandemic a National State of Disaster on Sunday.
“We have seen an increase in the numbers, especially post the President’s address. We have made sure that we are accommodating these numbers to the best of our ability,” says Lancet’s Sandile Sihlaba.
“I’ve been having a headache for few months so I want to know what’s going on. I am worried about this Corona,” one of the people queuing at a Lancet Lab in Auckland Park, Johannesburg, told SABC News.
Currently, government laboratories only test people who recently traveled to high-risk countries and those who came into contact with people who tested positive for the virus.
Voluntary tests can only be done privately and the cost to do so is estimated to be around R1 400 for medical aid members and R 900 for cash payers.
61 confirmed cases in Gauteng
Gauteng is the hardest hit province in South Africa, with at least 61 confirmed cases.
Provincial Health MEC Dr Bandile Masuku says Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize is meeting with pathology services following complaints about the cost of testing.
“Last week it was R1 200, I think this week it’s R1 400 you know. I think the issue of profit and scale has come into picture but the minister is meeting the executives of pathology labs across the country just to talk about first the cost of the testing and secondly sticking to the criteria for screening and even doing the test and thirdly just to quality assure the test.”
The department of health is expected to give regular updates on the virus.
The province says it’s ready to contain its spread and will postpone non-essential services. Swimming pools, parks and nature reserves are among the facilities closed from Wednesday, to manage social space.
South Africans are urged to avoid close contact with people infected with the coronavirus as the country moves to try and slow the spread of coronavirus.
For more information on the coronavirus, you can call the 24-hour hotline on 0800 029 999.
You can also add the official government COVID-19 support service on WhatsApp on 0600 123 456.