18 June 2020 - NW1124
Thembekwayo, Dr S to ask the Minister of Health
(1)Whether he has been informed about an anonymous tip-off from a healthcare worker in Gauteng that the National Institute Communicable Disease has advised to no longer conduct secondary retests to patients who have supposedly recovered; if not, what is the position in this regard; if so, what the relevant details; (2) what are the conditions of second tests being conducted on those who have tested negative and then requested a second test and (b) how often do healthcare workers in hospitals and clinics undergo testing of Coronavirus, more so the workforce that works with patients of Covid-19?
1. Policies are constantly reviewed to meet the demands of an evolving epidemic. Due to the global shortage of testing extraction kits, earlier policies that advocated repeat testing had to be revised. The National Institute for Communicable Diseases has aligned its recommendation to WHO Guidelines and national resources imperatives. Second tests are not conducted on persons who are negative and asymptomatic due to the shortage of testing kits.
2. (a) Those persons that test negative and are asymptomatic are not tested again, however those that are symptomatic- tests are repeated for these individuals, especially those that are at high risk.
(b) The health professional staff are not tested routinely except if they have symptoms of Covid-19 or fulfil the criteria of a high-risk exposure with a person who tested positive with Covid-19. They may after seven days of self-isolation be clinically evaluated and tested on day 8 with the possibility of early return to work if they have a negative test and are clinically well. They will continue to be monitored for symptoms till day 14 and are counselled on personal hygiene measures. Health professional staff are monitored daily through symptom screening. The rationale is that there are not enough test kits and targeted testing is needed. Risk assessments in health care settings, use of public health measures, personal hygiene, training on Covid-19 and personal protective equipment all contribute to a lowered risk of transmission exposure.