The National Health Laboratory Service (NHLS) has announced that it will be able to process 36 000 samples a day by the end of April. Currently, it can only do 5 000 tests a day. The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), a division of the NHLS, had done 19 975 tests by March, 25. The NHLS will increase the number of laboratories performing Covid-19 tests from six to nine, and the number of mobile testing sites four to 20 by the end of April.
By Wednesday (25 March 2020) the number of Covid-19 cases in South Africa rose to 709; including 4 recoveries. 425 959 cases have been reported globally; 18 957 have died and 109 241 have recovered.
According to the heads of private laboratories in SA there were bottlenecks in the supply of N95 and surgical masks, swabs, and gloves, as well as testing kits.
According to to a team of researchers at Wits University one million South Africans could contract Covid-19 within just 40 days, unless the government takes drastic action to avoid the country reaching a tipping point of 100 locally acquired cases, reported Business Day (23 March 2020). Their modelling work shows aggressive containment is essential for slowing the spread of the virus and keeping the numbers to a more manageable level.
SA is one of 10 countries involved in an urgent global trial announced by the World Health Organisation (WHO) to identify the most effective treatment for coronavirus. The leader of SA’s effort is Prof Helen Rees, head of the Wits Reproductive Health & HIV Institute and chair of the WHO’s immunisation advisory group for Africa who played a major role in the fight against Ebola.