Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) has expressed concern that community testing which was to start on Monday this week has been replaced with contact tracing. The COVID-19 Task Team revealed on Sunday during a press conference that the targeted community testing based on a random sample of 20,000 has been postponed and focus shifted to contact tracing. According to the team all resources will be channeled towards contact tracing after it was realised that the number of local transmission is increasing.
UDC has however argued that this is yet another example of failure of planning. "The nation cannot afford this. Community testing and contact tracing are both absolutely critical for informing the COVID- 19 containment strategy and should run concurrently rather than sequentially. The delay in community testing means that locating the geographical footprint of the pandemic will be delayed, at a high cost to the nation in terms of both the spread of the disease and the economic costs," UDC Head of Communications Moeti Mohwasa said.
He stated that the whole world prioritises testing because it is the only way of understanding the trajectory of the pandemic and identifying the hotspots. All efforts should be made for community testing to commence without further unnecessary delay and to scale-up testing beyond the original sample of 20,000, pointed out the UDC spokesperson. He lamented that it is important that the nation should be informed about the reasons for postponing so important a critical part of the response to the pandemic. Testing according to Mohwasa is not for academic/research purposes.
"It is about informing containment measures and saving lives. We advise that priority testing must go to all health workers and social workers, national and local leaders dealing with permits, including the police and the army, those going back to work and teachers. It is also vital that the tests are efficient/accurate and that they return results timely," said Mohwasa adding that the country should thus be on the lookout for new and more efficient testing kits.