Laboratories temporarily closed

Groote Schuur Hospital.

Chemical-pathology and haematology laboratories at Groote Schuur Hospital have been closed since Monday after 12 staff tested positive for Covid-19.

By yesterday, Wednesday April 29, South Africa had 4 996 confirmed cases of the virus and 93 deaths.

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said the latest deaths were in the Western Cape and included two men aged 67 and 70 and a 79-year-old woman who all had underlying conditions.

With 1 870 confirmed cases and 38 deaths, the Western Cape remains the epicentre of Covid-19 spread nationally.

Brandon Juries, the business manager of the National Health Laboratory Service(NHLS) Groote Schuur, said other pathology tests would continue as normal but essential tests for chemical pathology and haematology would be done at other NHLS facilities.

The NHLS functions as a separate entity from Groote Schuur Hospital. The disruption in the service was expected to end tomorrow, Friday May 1, he said.

“Since the Covid-19 pandemic started in South Africa, the hospital’s NHLS laboratory performed testing generally uninterrupted while implementing stringent measures to reduce workplace transmission and increase staff awareness,” he said.

The 12 staff had been diagnosed in the past seven days, he said.

“As part of our outbreak response and infection control, drastic measures must be taken to reduce further exposure at work and therefore the decision to revert to temporary shutdown and an essential test list,” he said.

Groote Schuur Hospital spokesman Alaric Jacobs said the situation at the NHLS lab would not affect the general hospital operations.

Tomorrow the country will enter a Level 4 lockdown, with eased restrictions.