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Calls for testing to be ramped up in N Cape

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Besides increasing Covid-19 testing more province-specific reporting in the Northern Cape needs to be ramped up.

AS THE number of positive coronavirus cases in the Province remain fairly stagnant at less than 20, calls have been made for both Covid-19 testing and province-specific reporting in the Northern Cape to be ramped up.

Concern has been expressed that while the number of positive cases in the Province had remained at 16 cases since April 12, 2020, until the latest figures were released on Monday night, the lull in case finding may be attributed more to a lack of testing than it is to the actual lack of the presence of coronavirus in the Northern Cape.

 It was announced on Monday night that the number of positive cases in the Province had increased by two, from 16 to 18.

The DA on Monday called on the MEC for Health, Mase Manopole, to ramp up both testing and reporting.

“We appreciate a report by Health MEC Manopole last week that 130 000 people in the Province have already been screened. However, screening, while very important, does not equate to actual testing,” DA provincial leader Andrew Louw said on Monday.

He added that allegations of a reluctance by the state to test people in the Province was fuelling concerns about the state’s actual readiness and capacity to do testing. 

“In addition, there was also the cancellation of the mass screening and testing campaign in the Sol Plaatje municipal area last week. Sol Plaatje Municipality is the Province’s most densely populated municipality, with the majority of NC residents residing here. We have furthermore received reports of a lack of test kits in other parts of the Province, such as Namaqua,” said Louw.

He added that while the party hoped that the Northern Cape’s low population and wide-open spaces were acting as a natural barrier to the spread of the coronavirus across the Province, he pointed out that this was a dangerous conclusion to draw without adequate testing being done.

“We are especially concerned that the lull in case finding in the Province may give our citizens a false sense of security, whereby they abandon social distancing and other regulations aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus,” Louw said.

“Given that the Northern Cape has one of the most poorly resourced and capacitated health care systems in the country, we are also concerned that it won’t take much for our already overburdened health care system to collapse, should there be a rapid spike in positive cases in the Province. This is the last thing we all want and what we must guard against.”

Louw added that the party was therefore calling on MEC Manopole to increase testing and reporting on provincial Covid-19 statistics. “In order for all people to take up their roles as soldiers in the fight against this disease, it is essential that they have a better understanding of the current low Covid-19 positive cases against the actual number of tests done.”

He stated that if the Province did in fact have a shortage of test kits, the government needed to be completely transparent about this. “Truthful and regularly updated information, regardless of how brutal it may be, will serve as a much more effective spear and shield to fight this invisible enemy.”

Speaking during a radio interview on Tuesday, MEC Manopole said that the Northern Cape was on par with other provinces with regards to the testing for Covid-19. She said her administration met with the minister and his team every second day to give updates.

She added that the provincial team was guided by the minister’s advisory team.

The provincial Department of Health was on Tuesday conducting tests in Kathu. 

Manopole requested all residents to avail themselves for testing should health officers knock on their doors.