Mashaba says Gauteng health dept is under-reporting Covid-19 cases

Herman Mashaba addresses the media at a press conference at the Johannesburg city council, 21 October 2019. Picture: Tracy Lee Stark.

The People’s Dialogue leader says a patient was released from a quarantine facility with the department failing to record any test results.

The People’s Dialogue leader and former mayor of Johannesburg Herman Mashaba on Friday accused the Gauteng department of health of under-reporting cases of Covid-19 infections confirmed by private laboratories in “a potential effort to underplay the threat of the disease in the province”.

In a statement on Friday, Mashaba said he had received documents as evidence on Thursday, 18 June, to back his comments.

The former mayor said a female patient who had tested positive for Covid-19 by Lancet Laboratories was released from quarantine in Olifantsfontein by provincial health department officials because she was deemed to be “asymptomatic”.

“It is important to note that medical studies around the world have concluded that the majority of infected patients display minimal or no symptoms whatsoever. It is therefore entirely possible for a patient to be infected, but be asymptomatic,” he said.

Mashaba said the provincial health department failed to record any test results, as the patient did not display any symptoms in her discharge letter.

“The section relating to Covid-19 test results was left unanswered by the department. Moreover, the discharge note requires the name and signature of the discharging doctor, but the one issued for the patient in question bears the name of one doctor and is signed by another.

“There is no stamp to confirm its authenticity. This incident raises a number of questions regarding the testing protocols implemented by the Gauteng provincial health department, as it pertains to patients that are being discharged from these facilities,” he added.

He said the matter also raised questions about patients who had tested positive without showing symptoms and being discharged in the process.

“The challenge of asymptomatic carriers of the novel coronavirus is well documented. It appears, however, that the department has decided to ignore such cases in an effort to downplay the severity of the disease. We will continue to monitor such cases and ensure that the department is honest and transparent about the threat posed by the disease,” he said.

The People’s Dialogue leader called on citizens with similar experience to bring the cases to the attention of his movement in order to challenge the department on the handling of those case.

The Gauteng health department was currently unreachable for a comment on the matter. This article will be updated once an official response is received.

The total number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in Gauteng, as of Friday morning, sits at 15,898 with 3,756 recoveries and 87 deaths.

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