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. 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 are now in a 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 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.
South Africa has reported 927 coronavirus infections to date – the highest in Africa – but no deaths thus far on any of these cases.