The Gauteng department of health on Monday appealed to community members to take part in ongoing screening and testing for the novel coronavirus, despite a barrage of “fake news from unreliable sources”. 

Provincial spokesperson Kwara Kekana said individuals were refusing to take part in the screening processes due to a viral video urging people not to get tested. 

“The Gauteng department of health wishes to advise the public to be vigilant of misleading information and fake news from unreliable news sources, which purport to share valuable insights on Covid-19. Today our screening and testing teams have had to plead with community members who refused to take part in the screening and testing drive due to a misleading video which has gone viral,” said Kekana. 

This undated electron microscope image made available by the U.S. National Institutes of Health in February 2020 shows the Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, yellow, emerging from the surface of cells, blue/pink, cultured in the lab. Also known as 2019-nCoV, the virus causes COVID-19. Photo by: NIAID-RML via AP

“In the video the public is misled [into] not agreeing to being tested, because the swabs which will be used for the tests are allegedly contaminated with Covid-19. We wish to state categorically that this is not true and we can assure the public that the screening and testing will not expose anyone to Covid-19, in any way.” 

Kekana said that as stated by president Cyril Ramaphosa, the screening and testing initiative is aimed at containing the spread of the coronavirus. 

“We urge the public to take Covid-19 seriously. Over a million people globally have tested positive for the virus, and thousands have lost their lives, including 11 in our country,” she said. 

Community health care workers in Gauteng, working with multiple stakeholders, are currently undertaking a large-scale community testing and screening programme which is aimed at interrupting the transmission of Covid-19. 

South Africa – Cape Town – 6 April 2020 – Elizabeth Harmse, Thaakirah Blankenberg, Beverly Thomas and Lavern Kapank from Community Health Care, walk the streets of Bishop Lavis and knock on door to door to check for symptoms of COVID19 and to educate the public on the Coronavirus. Photographer: Armand Hough/African News Agency(ANA)

“It should be noted that anyone that creates or spreads fake news about Covid-19 is liable for prosecution. We urge members of the public to verify information before distributing it to others. Please report fake news to: WhatsApp line: 076 966 4015 or email,” said Kekana.