The new guidelines on the use of rapid diagnostic testing offers new hope for more equitable, accessible and affordable testing.
On 14 December 2020 the Western Cape health department restricted access to Covid-19 testing for the second time in the year, excluding most of those under 45 and all of those without symptoms from access to public-sector testing (see here).
The reason is that the public-sector testing system was fast becoming overwhelmed, not just in the Western Cape but also in other provinces now facing a surge in cases.
For example, in the Eastern Cape public pathology system, the National Health Laboratory Service (NHLS), it took on average two days to get a Covid-19 test result at the end October. By the end of November it was taking four days. Of the 28 labs in the NHLS system, only one had a turnaround time of more than two days at the end of October. By the end of November 13 of the labs were taking more than two days to get a test result back.
The new rules from the Western Cape health department were expected: Earlier in 2020 it took more than 10 days…