healthcareNews24 reports that Eastern Cape healthcare workers are waiting nearly a month for their coronavirus test results from public sector laboratories and they fear that they may be exposing patients and colleagues to the infection.  

Earlier this month, testing backlogs prompted the Western Cape health department to announce that it would restrict testing for the virus to those with symptoms who were over the age of 55 or had underlying health conditions, as well as healthcare workers or patients in hospital or old-age homes.  A backlog of more than 21,000 tests for the new virus in the Eastern Cape has led to calls for the province to adopt a similarly restrictive criteria for coronavirus testing.  As of 9 June, the National Health Laboratory Service (NHLS) had about 70,000 unprocessed tests for the infection, CEO Kamy Chetty told MPs 10 June.  Chetty explained that international shortages in testing kits and supplies meant SA received fewer kits than it needed, fuelling backlogs.  The NHLS will start prioritising processing tests for healthcare workers as well as those who are at a high risk of dying from Covid-19 as part of a new system, Chetty indicated.  Such tests such will be done before those coming in as part of community screening efforts.  In Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal, the NHLS has added additional workers, equipment and testing sites, Chetty advised.  Both provinces have struck deals with private sector laboratories to deal with almost 40,000 unprocessed tests between the two provinces.

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