Cape Town – South Africa is in the grip of the third wave of Covid-19, with stricter lockdown regulations enforced on Sunday. But if you’re 45 and younger, unemployed, or employed without medical assistance and have little money at your disposal, there’s no chance of getting a free Covid test at a public facility in the Western Cape to put it down quickly. No worries to rest.
Since last week Tuesday, the Western Cape Health Department is no longer testing people under the age of 45 in public facilities.
When asked Western Cape Health Department spokesperson Mark van der Hever, he told IOL on Tuesday: “The Western Cape Health Department has limited testing in public health care facilities, in order to prevent a large backlog.
”This was a key lesson learned during the first and second waves, and enabled rapid turnaround times to return test results to high-risk patients. This helps save lives, as a quick diagnosis helps ensure close monitoring and care for those who may need hospital treatment.
Currently, residents under the age of 45 who do not have comorbidities will not be able to get tested in public health facilities, but they can still be tested in private facilities.
One Capetonian worker, who is struggling with what she believes are strong symptoms of Covid and has no money for a private test, says her only recourse is to stock up on vitamins and other essentials from the pharmacy, then self-isolate until symptoms appear. She has passed – while doubt persists whether or not she has Covid.
I don’t have medical help and can’t pay for a private lab to do a COVID test. Clicks said the R800, the Dischem R850, is money I don’t have.
I went to my uncle’s funeral in what I later found out was a hot spot 11 days ago. Last Wednesday, my cousin told me she tested positive, and told everyone she was in contact with to get tested themselves. Five other people who were present tested positive for Covid after the funeral.
I wasn’t feeling well at that point, but it might still be about the flu. But all my symptoms are getting worse. I can still taste and smell, but all the other symptoms I have seem to point out to Covid.
I called the national Covid hotline this morning and explained my situation to the man I spoke to. He said I need to get tested because of the number of other people I’ve interacted with who have Covid.
I told him I had no medical help. He said that was fine and took me to the county health department to tell me where the testing sites are. It was five in the morning when it wasn’t open yet. I phoned at 8. The lady asked me some questions and my age. When I said I was 42, she said since last week Tuesday that they don’t test under 45 at all.
”She said I have to tap the phone and ask how the test is working. I can even choose Dischem’s rapid antigen test. ”
When asked if she thinks this is an effective way to flatten the curve, she said, “How do they make that decision amid the third wave? How can other people get around with Covid who can’t afford testing? If they can’t handle the scale, they need to.” discover something.
“I’m not eligible for the vaccine yet, but at least I’m still lucky enough to get to the pharmacy and stock up on what everyone tells me I need; all vitamins and this and that. I live alone so I don’t need to call anyone until I feel better.”
The chief of the county health department, Dr. Keith Clowett, said at the beginning of the month that because of the backlog of tests, it took between seven and 12 days to get results. By then, the person tested could be on the verge of recovery.
“We’ve come to know for a fact that people are going through all of this…by the time they got their test results, it’s already 14 days,” Clouet said, adding that the national government was already asking anyone showing symptoms. To isolate oneself and stay away from work.
“We want to reduce the death rate. Our focus is shifting away from the people who are least at risk. We want to keep testing where it makes the biggest difference.”
If you think you have contracted the virus, you can call the National Institute of Infectious Diseases helpline (0800 029999) and you will be notified about possible testing facilities.
However, the test is not routinely done unless the test is indicated by a health professional, so the person will need to be evaluated by your medical practitioner in order to qualify for the test.