The National Institute for Communicable Diseases, a division of the National Health Laboratory Service will continue functioning as a reference and surveillance laboratory for COVID-19. This will include resolving and troubleshooting indeterminate and other unusual results as well as providing other reference laboratory functions. In addition, the NICD will conduct testing on routine surveillance samples to monitor the possible spread of COVID-19 across the country.
Cases of COVID-19 continue to increase and transmission is ongoing in South Africa. As of 26 March 2020, there are 218 new laboratory confirmed cases of COVID-19. As we approach the national lockdown period of 21 days as declared by President Cyril Ramaphosa, we remind everyone that human behaviour is essential to preventing the spread of the virus.
Social distancing is one of the main steps that we are currently proposing to add to South Africa’s capacity to significantly restrict COVID-19 transmission, among other interventions such as diligent hand hygiene and correct cough etiquette. The application of such preventive measures will need to continue after the 21 days, because the short-term implementation of exceptional steps (for a three-week period) would delay the rise in cases and does not necessarily produce long-term curve flattening.
NB: Please note that the data is pending verification, and will be updated subsequently.