Prof Salim Abdool Karim denies Covid-19 decline because of fewer tests

16 September 2020 - 19:23
By unathi nkanjeni AND Unathi Nkanjeni
Prof Salim Abdool Karim says claims that the government is conducting fewer Covid-19 tests are not true.
Image: TREVOR SAMSON Prof Salim Abdool Karim says claims that the government is conducting fewer Covid-19 tests are not true.

Prof Salim Abdool Karim has dismissed claims that Covid-19 cases in SA appear to be declining because the government is conducting fewer tests.

Over the past few weeks, the country's infection rate has showed a steady drop from more than 11,000 cases a day to about 2,000, and sometimes even fewer.

Some social media users have said that the decline was due to less testing and turning potential patients away.

In June, the Western Cape health department said testing for the coronavirus would be Ltd to high-risk individuals, such as people older than 55 with diabetes or hypertension and Covid-19 symptoms, and people who are younger than 55 with both underlying conditions and symptoms.

Speaking on CapeTalk at the time, the head of health at the provincial health department, Dr Keith Cloete, said, “If you’re younger than 55 and you have symptoms, assume you have Covid-19. After 14 days, you’ll be fine, there’s no purpose in getting a Test.”

Abdool Karim told Power 98.7 on Tuesday that the claims about fewer tests being taken were “simply not true”. 

“When we look at the number of cases, we don't look at it in isolation, we also have to look at the Test and the proportion of positive tests,” he said. “If we look at those two, both of them are going in the same direction, they are going down.”

Abdool Karim said the number of tests in the past three weeks had been fairly constant and this could also be attributed to the number of admissions going down.

“Fewer tests are being done because of fewer people coming in with symptoms. It's not accurate that our decline in numbers is due to a decline in the tests. That is simply not true.”

To date, SA has 651,521 confirmed Covid-19 cases and 15,641 deaths. The country's recovery rate is now at 89.5%. More than 583,100 people have recovered from the virus.

Moving to level 1

TimesLIVE reported that President Cyril Ramaphosa is set to address the nation on Wednesday night about the country moving to lockdown level 1. of the national lockdown.

The address follows meetings this week with the national coronavirus command council. Ramaphosa is expected to open international borders, with the exception of countries still deemed high risk, such as the US and some of the major EU countries.

An insider from the commission told TimesLIVE that while borders and other points of entry would reopen, the government had decided that travellers from countries deemed high risk would not be allowed to enter SA.