South Africa has, in a world first, decided to undertake door-to-door testing for the coronavirus, taking advantage of the current nationwide 21-lockdown, President Cyril Ramaphosa has said.Addressing the nation in a televised speech Monday night, Ramaphosa said the “unprecedented” exercise would be launched in the next few days.
Some 10,000 field workers will be deployed across the country of 57-million people, the president said.
“This drive is far-reaching, it is intensive and it is unprecedented in scale,” he said, adding that the numbers of the country’s confirmed coronavirus infections had risen to 1,326 cases with three deaths.
“We are now entering a new phase in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic,” he added, in reference to the mass screening, the first of its kind in the world.
According to the president, field workers would visit homes in villages, towns and cities to screen residents, and those with severe symptoms would be hospitalised immediately.
Those infected but asymptomatic or with moderate symptoms would have to remain in isolation at home or at government quarantine centres, he added.
While most people had “responded responsibly” to the lockdown, the president expressed concern about those who had defied the order and “have not yet appreciated the seriousness of this disease”.
Meanwhile, police said they had arrested hundreds of lockdown violators as the exercise remains a great challenge to the majority poor who have lost their means of earning daily wages.