Latest coronavirus cases as of Saturday 28 March 2020

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FirstRand pledges COVID-19 funding as more testing facilities open

With more testing laboratories set to open, financial services company FirstRand Limited promised to provide funding and resources.

Latest coronavirus cases as of Saturday 28 March 2020

Image via Adobe Stock

Another hospital is set to be added to the list of the nationwide sites allocated to assist with testing for COVID-19 in South Africa, with the FirstRand Group also pledging to continue helping to provide test kits to the centres. 

The financial services group said that its South African Pandemic Intervention and Relief Effort (SPIRE) is working closely with the Solidarity Response Fund and other industry and sector initiatives to bring the National Health Laboratory Service (NHLS) much-needed supplies and resources. 

FirstRand have said that they have successfully mobilised First National Bank (FNB), Rand Merchant Bank (RMB) and WesBank’s corporate and commercial customer bases to assist with the successful deployment of funding. 

“As a large financial services group, particularly given the valuable capabilities of our businesses, we can augment the current government and other national relief initiatives. Our platforms, client relationships and payment channels can be scaled rapidly,” FirstRand chief operating officer Mary Vilakazi said.

More testing centres to open

The National Health Department has announced that the Port Elizabeth Provincial Hospital in the Eastern Cape will soon be able to assist with testing as growing caseloads are being reported every day, with two people confirmed to have died and a caseload of 1 280 positive patients nationwide on Sunday 29 March. 

The Eastern Cape currently has 12 positive cases. 

There are currently five laboratories of the NHLS located in academic hospitals across the country. This is in addition to the laboratory at the National Institute for Communicable Deceases (NICD) in South Africa, which is the reference laboratory.

’30 000 tests per day’ 

The department announced its plans to alleviate the backlog in testing for the coronavirus over the weekend.

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said they would soon add the Tshwane and Walter Sisulu Academic Hospitals to the list of sites available for testing, as well as increase the number of mobile testing centres from seven to 47 in April.

According to Mkize, this would enable the Department of Health to conduct 30 000 COVID-19 tests per day.