The rapid rise in COVID-19 infections in the Eastern Cape is slowing down the turnaround time of test results. The province has screened about one million people already and conducted more than 30 000 tests.

However, it now takes as long as five days for results which used to take just 48 hours. The tracing of contacts is, therefore, becoming increasingly difficult.

Healthcare professionals are now well-trained about what they are dealing with, but how they deal with COVID-19 cases and the families of patients are seemingly not up to scratch.

The delays in test results worsen the situation.

The Jebese family lost a loved one. The deceased was admitted to hospital two weeks ago, but there is still uncertainty surrounding his death, despite it being recorded as a natural cause.

Family member Bantubakhe Jebese says the doctor told them that the deceased did not have COVID-19, but he was still running other tests. He further says the family is worried that they were given the deceased’s body despite uncertainty over his COVID-19 status.

He says if the deceased was positive, that means the virus has already spread throughout Mdantsane.

The health department is working on possible solutions to deal with the test result delays.

Eastern Cape Health’s HOD Thobile Mbengashe says their laboratories do have equipment, but the mixers for the COVID-19 tests are in shortage and are the ones causing the backlog.

The department says it is also difficult to require self-quarantine from people before a positive result is confirmed. There is also the doctor-patient confidentiality they have to be mindful of.

Eastern Cape Premier Oscar Mabuyane briefs the media on the province’s response to COVID-19:

The stigmatisation of COVID-19 patients also remains a problem.

In the video below, Eastern Cape COVID-19 patients decry stigmatisation: