The Department of Health has launched COVIDConnect, government’s official COVID-19 support service.
Recently, South Africans would have received SMSs from the Department of Health giving them vital information, including their COVID-19 test results.
They may also have received an alert that they have been identified as a contact of a COVID-19 positive patient.
This is part of the COVIDConnect system, which helps to detect positive cases early, track and trace their contacts, and refer them for appropriate management – immediate testing, isolation or quarantine.
“The digital system that the Department of Health is currently using, called COVIDConnect, brings an easy-to-use self-service portal to your cellular phone,” said Minister of Health Dr Zweli Mkhize.
It is freely accessible through WhatsApp and SMS. What also makes it more accessible is that it does not require for a user to have a smartphone – it works on any mobile phone.
“This system enhances the physical effort of contact tracking and tracing which is done by our community health workers and volunteers. It automates this traditional process and continuously engages with the affected user.”
When a patient conducts a test for Coronavirus, their information is picked up from the lab form and they will be informed of their test result, whether positive or negative, by SMS.
If the result is positive, the system prompts the patient for further information in order to identify their contacts.
The system then immediately dispatches alerts via SMS to those contacts without disclosing the index patient’s details.
The nondisclosure of the patient’s name is to ensure that their privacy is protected.
The system can also geo-locate the nearest quarantine and isolation facility for the user and the nearest health care facility for patients or their contacts who are experiencing symptoms requiring medical attention.
Users can get the latest COVID-19 news and information, prevention tips and wellness advice through COVIDConnect.
There is also a simple risk-assessment tool which will screen users for COVID-19 symptoms and give them advice on whether they should self-isolate or seek professional clinical assistance.
To access COVIDConnect, you can add 0600123456 to your phonebook and say ‘hello’ on WhatsApp. If you do not have a smartphone, you can dial *134*832# and follow the prompts.
When you test for COVID-19, supply your healthcare worker with your correct date of birth, physical address and cellphone number.
You can then use COVIDConnect to retrieve your test results via your cellphone or you will receive an SMS once your test results are ready.
To receive your results on WhatsApp, just add ‘LetsTalk’ to your phonebook on 0820468553. Type in ‘Results’ on WhatsApp and follow the prompts.