How to tell if door-to-door field workers screening for virus are legit

31 March 2020 - 16:35 By Naledi Shange
Field workers will carry IDs and be accompanied by police during a mass door-to-door Covid-19 screening drive.
Field workers will carry IDs and be accompanied by police during a mass door-to-door Covid-19 screening drive.
Image: Pixabay

Field workers being deployed on a “huge scale” to screen people and families for Covid-19 symptoms will be accompanied by police and carry identification.

Some people raised concerns on social media on Tuesday about the prospect of strangers knocking on their doors and how to tell if they were legitimate and not would-be criminals.

The screening drive is in line with President Cyril Ramaphosa’s address on Monday about steps being taken to contain the spread of the virus.

“In the coming days, government will be rolling out a screening, testing, tracing and medical management programme on a huge scale,” said Ramaphosa. “Around 10,000 field workers will be visiting homes in villages, towns and cities to screen residents for Covid-19 symptoms.”

The Gauteng Health Department started screenings, tracing and testing for Covid-19 in the township of Alexandra on March 31 2020. The Johannesburg township confirmed its first case of Covid-19 on March 30 2020. President Ramaphosa announced a large-scale medical management programme of 10 000 workers would be deployed across SA to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.

Speaking on radio 702, health department deputy director-general Dr Yogan Pillay said on Tuesday that the field workers would have identification badges, wear the same T-shirts and be required to carry their official ID documents.

Police officers would accompany them — to protect the community being screened as well as the field workers themselves.

Pillay said community leaders would be alerted about the presence of field workers in their areas. They in turn could alert the community on when to expect visits.

He said more than half of the field workers had already been brought on board by Tuesday and the 10,000 target would be achieved in the next few days.

“Gauteng has already started doing a dry run of what the testing would look like,” he added.

Teams were deployed to Alexandra, Johannesburg, on Tuesday after confirmation by the health ministry that a resident there had tested positive for Covid-19.

The 30-year-old man tested positive but ignored instructions to stay in self-quarantine and travelled to Limpopo. He was arrested and is in quarantine there.