Twelve staff members at the National Health Laboratory Service (NHLS) have tested positive for the coronavirus, Groote Schuur Hospital, in Cape Town, confirmed on Wednesday.
The NHLS, which functions as a separate entity on the hospital’s premises, has informed the hospital of the cases.
“As a precaution, the NHLS has taken a decision to temporarily suspend certain tests at the lab,” hospital spokesperson Alaric Jacobs said.
“The hospital can confirm that these changes at this NHLS lab will not affect operations during this period. The hospital continues to put the health and safety of its staff and patients first.”
According to a communique from the NHLS, it temporarily shut down its chemical pathology and haematology laboratories on Monday, adding it would only accept specified “essential tests”.
“All other pathology services will continue as normal. All tests listed on the essential test list will be referred to another NHLS laboratory,” it read.
“Since the Covid-19 pandemic started in South Africa, the NHLS GSH laboratory performed testing uninterrupted while implementing stringent measures to reduce workplace transmissions and increase staff awareness.”
According to the advisory, dated 27 April, it had diagnosed at least nine positive staff members in seven days.
“As part of our outbreak response and infection control, drastic measures must be taken to reduce further exposure at work and therefore the decision to revert to a temporary shutdown and an essential test list.”
According to Western Cape Premier Alan Winde, the province had recorded 1,935 positive cases and 38 deaths.
Of those, 624 people have recovered.