Sandu concerned about SANDF coronavirus scanning and screening

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Unlike other government departments and entities, the national defence force is not keeping South Africans informed of the impact of coronavirus on soldiers and other military personnel.

This has not gone unnoticed with the largest military union in the country – Sandu (SA National Defence Union) – asking for information on the number of positive coronavirus tests, number of cases and, in the worst case scenario, the number of SA National Defence Force (SANDF) deaths attributed to the pandemic.

Following reports of positive coronavirus cases in military ranks, the union’s national secretary Pikkie Greeff told defenceWeb “queries and concerns” about the pandemic are becoming more frequent.

As a service to all in uniform and Department of Defence (DoD) public service personnel, Greeff points out every unit/base in the SANDF has to scan each personnel member twice daily. This includes temperature reading and questions asked about contact.

“If scanning indicates a risk possibility, that person has to be referred for screening,” he said, adding this information is in the relevant SANDF command protocol.

Further, special facilities for screening are “in the vicinity” of bases and units across the country. Screening includes diagnostic questions and if the process indicates a risk, an individual is referred for testing.

On coronavirus testing Greeff said there are special facilities where this is done, including having a swab taken which is then sent for analysis.

“Analysis results are generally available within days and quarantine is the only option while awaiting results,” he said.

Greeff said where  bases and units were not complying with set-down protocol the matter should be reported immediately. Reporting points are the SANDF COVID-19 hotline (0800 027 028 or 0860 222 248) or Sandu (012 323 6465).

An example of proactive information dissemination on coronavirus is the Department of Correctional Services. Earlier this week Minister Michael Masutha’s department confirmed 1 510 COVID-19 cases among officials (573) and inmates (946). There are 915 active cases in South Africa’s prison system, 592 recoveries and 12 deaths attributable to the pandemic.

This month, two SANDF buildings in Pretoria were temporarily closed following COVID-19 cases. Petersen Bothgongo House in Visagie Street on the southern side of the Pretoria CBD housing components of the Department of Defence (DoD) Logistics Division was “temporarily closed for deep cleaning” as from Thursday 11 June.

This after Blenny, the Dequar Road building housing SA Air Force (SAAF) headquarters, was closed on Wednesday 10 June after two staffers tested positive for coronavirus.