South Africa rolls out mobile testing in virus lockdown

South African public healthcare workers dispersed into the buzzing streets of Johannesburg’s Yeoville neighbourhood on Friday as Africa’s worst virus-hit country rolled out mass door-to-door testing for COVID-19.

Armed with screening questionnaires and testing kits, medics and volunteers set up their testing station on the front porch of a block of flats in the gritty business neighbourhood.

Nurse Xola Dlomo told AFP they were asking one resident to mobilise fellow flat dwellers to come for screening and tests.

“They’ve been coming for screening and they are even open to testing if they have symptoms,” Dlomo said.

Already in a 21-day lockdown, South Africa is now embarking on the widespread testing and quarantine campaign involving some 10,000 field workers who are being sent out into homes in villages, towns and cities to screen for symptoms.

The testing plan to break the chain of infection appears to be modelled on the South Korean strategy which saw the Asian country bring the outbreak under control.

In Yeoville — a crime-prone area in Johannesburg’s hardscrabble central business district — eight small groups have been dispatched across an area covering one square kilometre.

“The health of our people is our first consideration,” said Kegorapetse Ndingandinga, overseeing the Yeoville team.

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