Cape Town will now focus coronavirus testing on people over 55

The City of Cape Town’s Health Department says it will now focus its Covid-19 testing on people with comorbidities that are older than 55.

The city’s emphasis has shifted to a risk-stratified case management approach, which includes identifying where the Covid-19 hotspots are, as well as individuals in those areas who are most susceptible to serious illness, said city councillor Zahid Badroodien.

“We have said before that most persons who contract Covid-19 will be able to self-isolate at home and recover without requiring any further medical intervention,” he said.

“The statistics of persons who have had to be hospitalised and who have succumbed to the virus indicate that underlying conditions or comorbidities were present. It is for this reason that we are focusing our attention on these vulnerable groups.”

While everyone will still be screened, the city said that it will focus on people who have symptoms in the following categories:

  • People who have already been admitted to the hospital with Covid-19 symptoms;
  • Healthcare workers with symptoms;
  • People older than 55 with comorbidities;
  • People younger than 55 with underlying conditions and Covid-19 symptoms;
  • People who live in old age homes with Covid-19 symptoms.

Speaking in an interview on Cape Talk, the Western Cape’s head of health Dr Keith Cloete said that this decision is being made based on testing results which show that certain groups of people are at much greater risk of coronavirus.

“If you are under the age of 55 and don’t have comorbidities your likelihood of only getting a mild illness is very high. At the same time your risk of developing further symptoms which require you to go to hospital is very low,” he said.

Cloete noted that the city has had over 500 deaths and almost invariably the deaths are people over 55, have comorbidities, or a combination of the two.

“At this point in time your likelihood of getting a test (if you don’t meet these criteria) is very low,” he said.

Minister of Health Dr Zweli Mkhize has announced that South Africa now has 35,812 confirmed cases of coronavirus in South Africa as of Tuesday (2 June).

This is up by 1,455 from the 34,357 infections reported on Monday.

The Western Cape has around 66% of total infections in the country – 23,583 in total. Most of these cases are centred in and around the Cape Town metro.


Read: South Africa’s lockdown regulations are invalid and unconstitutional: High Court

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Cape Town will now focus coronavirus testing on people over 55