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Govt further decentralises COVID-19 testing

by Staff reporter
28 May 2020 at 08:05hrs | Views
GOVERNMENT has decentralised COVID-19 testing with areas such as Tsholotsho and Lupane receiving gene-expert machines which will see the country conducting about 1 000 tests per day following concerns that the process was slow.

Director of laboratory services in the Health ministry, Douglas Mangwanya told Southern Eye on the sidelines of COVID-19 test kits donation by FBC and personal protective equipment by Asakhane to Mpilo Central Hospital and the United Bulawayo Hospitals yesterday that Bulawayo could now conduct 400 tests per day.

The donation was received by Bulawayo Metropolitan Affairs minister Judith Ncube at Mpilo Central Hospital.

"In the country, we now do about 1 000 tests a day. We have now decentralised the gene experts like in Tsholotsho they are testing, Lupane tests are being done all over. We have now decentralised testing," Mangwanya said.

"With Bulawayo having three gene-expert machines, over 300 tests can be done in the city because we gave another machine to the Bulawayo City last week.

"In Bulawayo, there are three machines in total, including the gene experts. One bigger machine that is here in Mpilo Hospital does about 300 and the three small ones that we gave to the city, with one gene-expert machine doing 40 tests a day giving us a total of about 120 tests done altogether."

Mangwanya said the United Nations donated COVID-19 cartridges that could also be used on gene-expert machines which were meant for tuberculosis testing.

"On the gene-expert machine it takes about 40 minutes and the PCR takes about five hours or so. There is no difference between the two machines, it is only that the gene-expert is also a PCR, but the only thing is that it is a smaller one," he said.

"We used to use them for testing TB, but now we have changed them since they are also being used in America and all over the world. We got the agency which arrived from United Nations. They gave us (Zimbabwe) some cartridges which we are now using which is why I said now we have at least enough to do the tests."

Mangwanya added: "Right now those machines which are mostly meant for drug-resistant TB can be used after inserting COVID-19 cartridges, with specific sites but not all the sites countrywide."

He said so far there were no locally-transmitted cases, with new cases coming from returnees and immigrants in quarantine centres.

FBC donated 1 000 test kits to Bulawayo out of the 10 000 which were distributed throughout the country. Mpilo received 520 kits and UBH 480.

Source - newsday