oa Wits Journal of Clinical Medicine - Opinion : a view from the frontline. The impact of restricting access to primary care services at the beginning of lockdown to prevent the spread of SARS-CoV-2 in Gauteng - opinion

Volume 2 Number 2
  • ISSN : 2618-0189
  • E-ISSN: 2618-0197



A week into the Level 5 lockdown, operational instructions were received for primary healthcare (PHC) facilities across Gauteng to limit services to emergency cases and pregnant women. Stable chronic patients not yet in the Central Chronic Medicine Dispensing and Distribution programme were to preferably receive a two-month supply of medication. This was to enforce a key measure, through social distancing, to prevent the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 to the staff and patients in health facilities, and therefore to safeguard the functioning of clinics and the health and safety of the public. However, it was difficult to obtain clarity on exactly what essential primary care services constitute in a State of Disaster. A lot was left to the interpretation of facility managers on the ground. The desire to protect the staff and patients attending clinics may have been well intentioned at the time but has resulted in lasting consequences for acute and routine primary care services.

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