“Momentum and Dis-Chem has announced that they will be offering private lab COVID testing to non-medical aid and unemployed patients,” says a WhatsApp message Africa Check received on 8 June 2020.
“To be part of this patients need to access the service *120*394#. No data or airtime is required … please spread this far and wide. This helps the most vulnerable in our society,” the message says.
Can patients who are unemployed or don’t have medical aid get a free Covid-19 test through Dis-Chem and Momentum? We checked.
Service ‘free to all South Africans’
Africa Check spoke to Mandy Laemmle, public relations manager at Momentum, who confirmed the content of the message was true and forwarded a press release from the company.
The release says: “The HelloDoctor service is free to all South Africans so that everyone can access medical advice during this health crisis. The partnership with Dis-Chem now allows those members without access to healthcare funding to obtain a test for free from Dis-Chem if referred by a doctor.”
The release encourages people who are worried that they have been exposed to Covid-19 to use a free USSD number, where you dial a number that starts with * and ends with#. Hello Doctor will call them back with medical advice. (Note: USSD numbers cannot be phoned directly.)
Patients can get a referral to be tested for Covid-19 at Dis-Chem from a certified doctor through the app.
Patients must be referred through Hello Doctor in order to be tested at Dis-Chem, in partnership with Momentum. But the service is free if you are uninsured or unemployed. – Naledi Mashishi
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