South Africa: Fake News - No, COVID-19 Testing Kits Are Not Contaminated

Real-Time Reverse Transcriptase (RT)-PCR Diagnostic Panel (file photo)

A fake video claiming that Covid-19 testing kits are possibly contaminated, has been condemned by the Eastern Cape Department of Health.

In the video, which has been widely distributed on social media, a man - whose name is known to News24 - calls on South Africans to refuse Covid-19 testing.

With an ear bud stuck up his nose, he claims he is giving South Africans "the most important message you will ever hear in your entire life".

He then claims that the South African government will send 10 000 workers door to door, with the police, to test for Covid-19.

"Do not under any circumstances allow them to test you. There's a possibility that the swabs are contaminated with Covid-19."

The man then claims that, globally, the swabs are used to "spread the virus".

On his Facebook page, the man paradoxically also claims that Covid-19 "is a total lie", that 5G cell masts "will kill thousands of South Africans and people around the world with radiation", and that people will be microchipped and the state will monitor their every move.

Attempts to get hold of the man on Monday morning were fruitless.

Unnecessary panic

According to provincial spokesperson Sizwe Kupelo, the video is causing unnecessary panic.

"We would like to put it on record that the testing kits are not contaminated and emphasise that we would never put people's lives at risk by using contaminated testing kits on them.

"We condemn the viral video which is spreading fake news and hope that law enforcement agencies will follow up on the video, and possibly arrest the man for spreading the malicious message," Kupelo said.

"This is not the time for conspiracy theorists. We need as many people as possible to get tested for the coronavirus should they have symptoms consistent with the virus.

"That is the only way to stop the spread of the virus and ensure we flatten the curve. Refusing to be testing will not help but will only result in people who might have been treated, had they been tested, dying from Covid-19 complications."

Kupelo said the department also wanted to dispel the notion that the test is painful.

"It might be uncomfortable but it is not painful."

How the test is conducted

Nasal swab:

The patient is seated on a chair. The health practitioner tilts the patient's head backwards to have a good view of the nose and throat.

A nasal swab is inserted into the nostrils to the back of the nose to get a specimen before it is pulled back slowly.

The specimen is then placed in a jar. All along, the practitioner is wearing protective clothing, including a gown, mask, gloves and goggles.

Throat swab:

The patient is in the same head position and is asked to open his or her mouth. The health practitioner then uses a tongue depressor and takes a specimen from the tonsils and back of the throat in a figure of eight motion, before putting the specimen in a jar.

"It is painless and quick. People should heed government's call and get tested in order to be treated should the need arise," Kupelo said.

"To prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, people should at all times practise good personal hygiene by washing their hands with soap regularly for 20 seconds or using hand sanitisers.

"People should also keep at least a two metres physical distance and stay at home and be safe. That is how we will beat this pandemic," added Kupelo.

Police Minister Bheki Cele earlier warned against spreading false rumours.

"We won't spare you, we'll take you," he told eNCA.

Source: News24

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