While panic grips the country following President Cyril Ramaphosa’s declaration that the coronavirus outbreak is a national disaster, the Gauteng health department has admitted its public facilities can’t accommodate mass screenings.
Members of the public flocked to Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital to have themselves screened for the deadly virus which first emerged in Wuhan, China. As of Monday, there are 62 confirmed cases in South Africa.
A 33-year-old said she was “turned away” when she approached the hospital on Monday to be tested after she experienced some symptoms.
“I am experiencing a fever, my lungs are sore and I have a sore throat. So I went in and the doctor said she cannot do the test on me because I did not have direct contact with any of the confirmed cases,” she said.
“I am now driving back home because I do not have R1,200 to pay for a [private] lab test,” she said.
Spokesperson for the health department, Kwara Kekana, conceded that public hospitals in the province may not be able to cope with the high number of people needing screenings.
“You need to show symptoms or have direct contact with a confirmed case in order to be tested. There is a criteria that will be helping us to be able to determine suspicious cases,” Kekana said.
The department said its Emergency Medical Services (EMS) lines have been inundated with calls from the public.
The department urged members of the public to approach their local GPs who have the authority to refer them.
“The academic hospitals are specialised facilities. Members of the public must go to our local clinics or their local GP first,” Kekana said.