Department intensifies community screening

Health workers testing a resident in Athlone.

The provincial Department of Health is intensifying its Covid-19 community screening and testing programme this week, with health teams working in Bridgetown, Bokmakierie, Rylands and Heideveld.

The screening and testing resumed in the greater Athlone area this week, starting in Bridgetown on Monday April 20 and yesterday (April 21). From today and tomorrow, Thursday April 23, they will be in Bokmakierie, and on Friday April 24, they will be in Rylands. The team did screening and testing at the Anglican church in Thames Avenue, Manenberg, on Monday and yesterday.

On Wednesday April 15, the health team was at the St George’s Anglican Church in Silvertown, where hundreds of people lined the street to be screened and tested.

Monique Johnstone, Western Cape Health spokesperson for the Klipfontein/Mitchell’s Plain substructure, said: “We are trying to find people who might need help. We need to talk to people to find out whether they need to go for testing so we can refer them for treatment. We will focus specifically on vulnerable people and communities. As part of the Covid-19 screening and testing programme, the Western Cape Health Department will intensify its community screening and testing in the coming weeks.”

Ms Johnstone explained that health teams would go on door-to-door visits and ask a few questions and refer those who need to be tested to the correct site.

“The more people our teams can talk to (screen) the better chance we have of stopping the spread and in doing so, keep our vulnerable community members safe. The questions will mainly focus on whether or not a person has symptoms of illness at the moment (a sore throat, a cough or fever). These questions need to be answered honestly.

“During the community screening and testing the support of the community is essential for the success in stopping the spread of the virus. Our health teams are identifiable by their badges and clothing/ uniform and we appeal that you allow them to screen you,”Ms Johnstone said.

She assured the community that the testing is safe, and also asked that people give their correct contact details, so that a health worker can make contact with the results, which usually become available after 48 hours.

“While you await your results, we ask that you please quarantine at home in a separate room, if possible. We appeal to people who need to quarantine to stay home and not have visitors. If you cannot quarantine at home, speak to the health worker who will advise on further assistance,” Ms Johnstone said.

She added that the public are encouraged to continue practising good hygiene and, where possible to wear a cloth mask.

“Remember the golden rules of prevention: wash your hands regularly with soap and water; keep surfaces clean; do not touch your face; cough and sneeze in your elbow fold; keep 1.5m away from people, and stay at home. We also recommend the use of a three-layer cloth face mask. We appreciate the community’s continued support and ask them not to discriminate against Covid-19 survivors but to support them as they no longer pose a health risk,” she said.

Screening can also be done at a primary health care facility, but one should first phone the facility.

There is also a self-assessment risk tool available online at www.westerncape.gov.za/department-of-health/sars-cov-2-risk-assessment-form

There are also a number of dedicated sites for testing and triage centres where screening can be done.These include Groote Schuur Hospital, Heideveld Emergency Centre, Tygerberg Hospital, New Somerset Hospital and Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital, among others.

Private clients may be referred by their doctors to private laboratories for testing.

If you have flu-like symptoms, and have come into contact with someone who has the coronavirus, contact the national hotline on 0800 029 999 or the provincial hotline on 021 928 4102 for advice on what to do next. These lines are operational 24/7.