The National Health Laboratory Service (NHLS) has terminated the contract of a courier company who lost Covid-19 samples while in transit on the N2 in the Eastern Cape.
On Tuesday 23 June 2020, a member of the public discovered a cargo of Covid-19 test kits while jogging on the N2 in the Eastern Cape. News24 reported at the time that a manager of the NHLS recovered the kits, 80 samples in total, from the roadside.
The jogger told ENCA, "When I saw them I knew immediately that these were the sticks they use to test people for Covid-19. I didn't touch them.
"I shoved them away with my running shoes. I could open them up using my foot, and I saw that these were Covid-19 tests."
Initial reports from the courier company involved, Gibela Trade and Invest, stated that the samples were lost off the back of a bakkie when the canvas roof opened unexpectedly.
In an announcement by NHLS chief executive, Dr Kamy Chetty said that "The loss of the specimens amounts to a violation of the patient's rights to protection of their medical records, privacy and confidentiality and the right to dignity. It potentially places the lives of those patients and their families at risk as well as those members of the public that may have come into contact with any positive specimens."
The contract with Gibela Trade and Invest is terminated with immediate effect, said Chetty, because the company and their staff "were found to be negligent and a risk to human life".
The NHLS has sent nurses to retest those subjects whose samples were discovered, said Chetty, "At a time when our country is dealing with a state of disaster due to the Covid-19 pandemic, these actions are reprehensible, and the NHLS has taken swift action to terminate the services of Gibela Trade and Invest."
According to News24, NHLS Eastern Cape regional manager, Tabita Makula, said: "We are grateful to our other courier suppliers for stepping into the gap and assisting us at short notice, their efforts to extend their service so quickly will ensure that specimen transportation will continue with as little disruption as possible".
You can see the original video of the discovery by eNCA below.
Image and video source: eNCA.