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By News24 Wire

Wire Service

DA calls on provinces to release Covid-19 testing stats

Understanding how many tests are done will allow government to ensure each province is testing enough people.

The DA plans to submit Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) applications to compel provincial health departments to release detailed Covid-19 statistics daily.

DA health spokesperson Siviwe Gwarube said only the Western Cape and Gauteng (although in a limited fashion) were releasing daily stats which are broken down into regions, fatalities and tests conducted.

“The DA has repeatedly raised the issue of credible, consistent and accurate data which gives the country a complete picture of community transmissions in the fight against Covid-19. There seems to be a desire in some provinces to withhold data from the public for no reason at all. As an example of this absurdity, the KwaZulu-Natal provincial government is claiming that these statistics are embargoed. Other provinces are either inconsistent in the sharing of this information or it does not happen at all,” said Gwarube.

The issue had been raised with Health Minister Zweli Mkhize, she said, adding that understanding how many tests were taking place would allow the government to ensure each province was testing enough people in relation to their population.

“The crisis in the Eastern Cape, where less than 10 000 tests were conducted in five weeks, was discovered much later than it should have because there was no requirement for public release of testing figures. This is an important accountability tool.”

Gwarube referenced testing in the Western Cape as an effective and transparent model, saying it offered a targeted approach of screening and testing in clusters, where positive results had been found.

She also cited information released by the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) for the period between 4 March and 27 April, during which the Western Cape conducted 541 tests per 100 000 people, followed by Gauteng with 439 per 100 000 people, and lastly the Free State which conducted 284 per 100 000 people.

“This information from the NICD underscores the importance of having reliable and consistent provincial data. Information about a global pandemic that is wreaking havoc in our country should never be considered classified,” Gwarube said.

“Every province must have a targeted approach to testing, tracing and tracking while meeting their daily testing targets. These PAIA applications will help us determine that in the next coming weeks.”

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