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NICD: Positivity rate spikes after COVID test results delay at state labs

Technical problems at state laboratories led to delays in the release of results of coronavirus tests, as well as a dump of close to 19,000 cases into the National Institute for Communicable Diseasesʼ (NICD) system on Sunday.

The National Health Laboratory Service (NHLS), which coordinates the state laboratories where samples are tested for COVID-19, admitted on Monday (13 December) that technical problems with laboratory information systems had led to delayed test results.

Daily Maverick reports spokesperson for the NHLS Mzimasi Gcukumana as saying that technical challenges, coinciding with IT security upgrades, affected production and led to a delay in the issuing of COVID-19 test results.

“Our engineers and service providers managed to fully restore the service on Thursday [9 December] morning.”

This comes after the NICD reported 37,875 cases, including 19,840 retrospective cases (reported late due to the NHLSʼs technical problems), and 18,035 new cases, on Sunday night.

The NICD said that between Saturday and Sunday, 18,035 COVID-19 cases were reported. The positivity testing rate is 28.9%.

“In South Africa, private and the National Health laboratory Service public labs perform COVID-19 testing. The NICD collects the data as part of its public health surveillance activities and relies on test reports from both private and public laboratories to generate daily statistics.

“The NICD… will continue to update surveillance databases retrospectively as the public laboratories remedy the IT difficulties. This will result in retrospective data being processed, increasing the cumulative number of tests,” said the NICDʼs Sinehlanhla Jimoh.

Results on Monday afternoon showed most new cases from Sunday were from Gauteng (42%), followed by KwaZulu-Natal (16%). Western Cape accounted for 13%; Eastern Cape and Free State each accounted for 6%; Mpumalanga and North West accounted for 5% each; Limpopo 4% and Northern Cape 2%.

The current national positivity rate of 28.9% has increased from Saturday, when it was 16.4%.


Daily Maverick article – Covid-19 positivity rate spikes after National Health Laboratory Service admits technical problems led to delay in test results (Open access)


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