S. Africa to conduct mass community testing for COVID-19, says Health minister

South Africa will conduct mass community testing for coronavirus as cases continued to rise, according to Health Minister Zweli Mkhize.

An uptick in local transmissions prompted the need to prepare for mass community testing, the minister said while updating the nation on the spread of COVID-19 in the country.

Until Friday, the number of confirmed coronavirus infections in South Africa has risen to 1,505, an increase of 43 from Thursday’s figure, Mkhize said.

Two more patients have died, both in KwaZulu-Natal Province, bringing the death toll to seven, he said.

The two victims were an 80-year-old man who died on April 1 and an 81-year-old woman who died on April 2, according to Mkhize.

With more local transmissions, South Africa is going to roll out mass community testing, Mkhize said in Khayelitsha, an impoverished township in Cape Town, where several positive cases have been reported.

We have identified areas of priority,” he said without elaboration, adding that “we are ready to give additional support and reinforcement to the areas that need assistance.”

Mkhize said densely populated areas such as townships have reported COVID-19 cases, giving the pandemic a “new dynamic.”

The government wants to hit these areas first when it comes to taking measures to curb the spread, said Mkhize.

On Wednesday, the minister launched 60 mobile sampling and testing units in a bid to scale up the capacity of testing citizens across the country.

These units are part of the massive testing project announced late last month by President Cyril Ramaphosa, where workers will go out to different areas to test people for COVID-19.

South Africa, which reported its first case on March 5, has the largest number of COVID-19 infections on the African continent.

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