South Africa’s largest mobile network is doing its part to help manage and curb the spread of COVID-19. As the government ups its screening and testing campaign for the coronavirus, the telecoms giant has committed to a donation valued at R40-million, consisting of 20 000 smartphones (the cost of 5 000 of these will be covered by Samsung Africa), each of which will be loaded with 5GB of data and 500 voice minutes. The devices will be used by frontline workers who are tasked with the collection and transmission of data to the Department of Health’s COVID-19 Information Centre.

Speaking about the donation, Vodacom Group CEO Shameel Joosub said, “This latest donation announced by Vodacom will also assist government by ensuring that medical care resources are efficiently and effectively distributed to help those who are infected or require critical medical assistance.”

Joosub is one several of CEOs who have heeded President Cyril Ramaphosa’s call to donate a third of their salaries for the next three months to the recently set up support fund which aids efforts to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus and support citizens and businesses in need.

Earlier this month, Vodacom also announced a partnership with Discovery, which uses joint funding of R20-million to pay doctors for an estimated 100 000 virtual consultations. The service, which utilises Discovery’s existing DrConnect platform, is free to use for all South Africans and uses telemedicine to try and reduce overcrowding at doctors’ rooms and clinics amidst the coronavirus outbreak.

In a statement, Vodacom and Discovery have said that virtual healthcare consultations have “proved invaluable in the management of this disease, with many governments and healthcare systems advocating for digital healthcare tools and virtual consults to be the first step and primary means of healthcare support during the COVID-19 outbreak”.

To access this free service:

  • Download the DrConnect app to your Apple or Android device.
  • Answer a few questions using the COVID-19 self-screening risk assessment tool.
  • Should you be identified as having a high risk of COVID-19, you will be required to complete a short registration and consent process on the DrConnect app.
  • You will now be able to book a virtual consultation with a doctor who will assess the need to test for COVID-19.
  • Should testing be recommended, a photo of the completed pathology form (and of scripts for medicine, if necessary) will be sent to you via email, SMS or WhatsApp.

The relevant essential healthcare service providers will facilitate testing and the collection of medicine, and doctors will receive test results electronically and make recommendations accordingly.

Vodacom customers can also complete a self-assessment via USSD by dialling *111# and following the prompts.

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