Testing is being carried out primarily by the NICD to make sure tests are done as per international guidelines and standards because the South African government must report on tests and infected cases to the World Health Organisation (WHO). In declaring COVID-19 a global pandemic, the WHO stressed the responsibility of governments to implement these international strategies. Central data pooling further assists in identifying possible points of origin in patients testing positive after travelling abroad.
The clinical principles that outline who should be considered for testing (apart from those persons identified as possible contacts by tracer teams), have been standardised internationally.
These principles are:
The patient must show a clinically compatible illness, meaning they have symptoms such as fever, cough, sore throat or shortness of breath, and they need to meet one of the following criteria as well:
DoH has listed the hospitals where cases can be referred to. They are:
In the event that the member is not in reasonable proximity to the NICD identified hospitals where cases must be referred to, Umvuzo Health may pay for such tests at private laboratories under the following conditions:
Treatment for uncomplicated cases that have tested positive consists of isolation, preferably in a home environment where preventive measures are put in place. There is no need to admit them in a facility, such a move may actually increase the possible exposure of others to the virus. Such a member will get guidance on steps to take at home. There are no drugs that kill the virus, antibiotics are not effective against the virus either. Treatment for uncomplicated positive cases boils down to supporting the patient’s immune system as described above and preventing spread. Complicated positive cases, such as those with pneumonia, fall in the PMB category and are in that respect also covered under Umvuzo Health’s PMB benefits.
Members are encouraged to discuss getting the flu vaccine through their doctors or pharmacies because the symptoms of influenza and COVID-19 are very similar – preventing influenza will reduce members with such symptoms and avoid unnecessary testing. Influenza may also lower the patient’s immunity. Provided they have benefits available, all Umvuzo members qualify for an annual flu vaccine.
National contact numbers:
NICD General Information 0800 029 999.
NICD Clinician Hotline 082 883 9920.