Covid-19: Mass testing could miss some learners, says Sadtu

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Johannesburg – The South African Democratic Teachers’ Union (Sadtu) has expressed concern the mass home visit Covid-19 screening campaign might not cover all learners before schools are reopened.

President Cyril Ramaphosa previously announced about 10 000 health field workers would from this week conduct nationwide home visit screening to detect cases of coronavirus.

Sadtu general secretary Mungwena Maluleke said the number of field workers was not sufficient to cover the country’s population.

“We need more than 42 000 testing personnel to be able to cover as many people as possible in terms of screening.

“The 10 000 personnel have been sent to hotspots such as Khayelitsha (Cape Town) and Alexandra (Johannesburg), and they are not as yet dealing with the populations as a whole,” he said.

He maintained that when schools resumed, their normal operations there would be an opportunity to speed up the government’s screening programme.

Sadtu spokesperson Nomusa Cembi told Independent Media the union was not confident screening would be able to cover everyone.

“We have not seen it (home screening), it has not got off the ground and if schools (for example) reopen next week, we don’t think every learner would have been covered,” said Cembi.

According to a memo issued by the Department of Basic Education and sent to various teachers, schools may reopen on April 21 with the teachers expected to report on duty on April 20.

“Teaching time lost may be recovered by the shortening of the winter and spring holidays,” read the memo.

Basic education spokesperson Hope Mokgatlhe said in reaction to unions’ concerns about screening, Minister Angie Motshekga held a teleconference with various unions on Wednesday morning.

“There was an agreement, which the minister was taking to the command council.

“All the unions expressed their concerns, the minister accepted them and said ‘I am taking them to the president, and then we will talk about that’,” said Mokgatlhe.

With regard to the reopening of schools, Mokgatlhe said the exact date would be determined by Ramaphosa.

“The president is to address the nation again to tell us if the curve has been flattened so we can reopen,” she said.

By Bongani Hans


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