• Testing for the coronavirus will be expanded, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced on Wednesday night.
  • People who go to hospitals will be tested if they show symptoms of Covid-19, and anyone admitted will be tested even if they show no symptoms.
  • SA is also getting a seroprevalence study, though details are still scarce.
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Many more South Africans may be getting coronavirus tests soon, even if they show no symptoms of Covid-19.

SA is now in a position to expand testing for Sars-CoV-2, President Cyril Ramaphosa said in an address to the nation on Wednesday night, and intends to use that leeway to gather more data.

Health authorities plan to test three new groups of people:

  • everyone admitted to hospital
  • any outpatient at a hospital who shows symptoms of Covid-19
  • people who have been in close contact with others confirmed to have the coronavirus, "whether or not they themselves have symptoms".

At the same time, South Africa will launch a national seroprevalence survey, Ramaphosa said. Such surveys use antibody tests, which detect people who have had the coronavirus, regardless of wether their infection is active at the time, or if they ever showed symptoms of the Covid-19 caused by Sars-CoV-2.

"A nationwide study will allow scientist to estimate the extent of asymptomatic infections and immunity within the population, as well as better understand the transmission patterns of the virus," Ramaphosa said.

He did not provide details on the scope of the study, how participants will be chosen, or when fieldwork will begin.

(Compiled by Phillip de Wet)

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