Dis-Chem has decided to close its testing facilities for the foreseeable future due to the backlog in obtaining test results.
The pharmacy group has said that the unanticipated increase in infections across the country, especially in Gauteng, has put severe strain on the capacity of testing labs. This has in turn impacted the turnaround time for Dis-Chem’s test results. Gauteng alone has seen a dramatic rise in the number of COVID-19 infections and in just two weeks‚ the number of infections has increased a staggering 283%.
“We are constantly following up with the various laboratories, but they are being forced to prioritise urgent hospital tests. The number of labs that can do the tests is limited and we are spreading our load across as many as possible. Another factor affecting the speed of testing and obtaining results is the reduced number of flights around the country, so transporting tests to the labs from outlying cities and other remote stations is delayed,” says Lizeth Kruger, Dis-Chem’s national clinic manager.
Kruger says the system was working well until a week ago but the sudden surge in patient numbers has overwhelmed all facilities.
“The reality of the situation is that the healthcare sector has never faced an issue of this nature, and the fast-growing infection numbers are having a broad impact. This is just one example of an over-burdened system.”
She says all results are SMS’d directly to customers as soon as Dis-Chem receives them. Dis-Chem’s nursing sisters have worked tirelessly through this testing time, putting their own health at risk to provide the tests.
“We don’t want to let our customers down and as we are only facilitators; we have no control over the labs. We reiterate our intention to support government by providing additional testing capacity, but this is out of our hands.”
“We apologise for the delays and assure our customers and public that we are doing everything in our power to get results to them as quickly as we can. We will review the situation on a regular basis and will consider reopening the testing facilities once we are assured that the various labs can cope with demand. The pandemic and the rising numbers are leading to panic, and we urge consumers only to get tested if they develop symptoms,” Kruger said.