Beginning Thursday, May 7, the rate of infection of COVID-19 in the country will be determined within 24 hours, the Head of the Virology Department of the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research (NMIMR) at the University of Ghana, Professor William Ampofo, has said.
He said this after a backlog of 1,982 samples were cleared at the Kumasi Centre for Collaborative Research (KCCR), one of the testing centres in the country.
Already, the NMIMR has cleared all backlog of samples.
Prof. Ampofo, who made the declaration at a press briefing at the
Ministry of Information in Accra yesterday, said the KCCR had about
3,000 samples as of Monday, May 4, 2020, and was able to work all night
to reduce them to 1,982 samples the following day.
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“We expect that by Thursday the backlog would be cleared. For Noguchi, we have no backlog, so we should be able to produce results within 24 hours for the Ghana Health Service (GHS) when samples are received from contact tracing and also from hospital surveillance,” he said.
Prof. Ampofo said testing had been expanded to include limited testing at the University of Health and Allied Sciences (UHAS), Ho.
Also, the International Atomic Agency was expected to donate some items to the university through the Ministry of Health next week for increased testing in the Volta and the Oti regions, he added.
According to him, there was ongoing testing at the Public Health Laboratory at the Tamale Teaching Hospital (TTH) and the Veterinary Services Directorate Laboratory at Pong-Tamale, both in the Northern Region.
“As I speak, we have a testing centre being established at the Veterinary Services Directorate in Takoradi in the Western Region, and this is being done in conjunction with the Public Health Laboratory of the Effia Nkwanta Hospital,” he said, and expressed the hope that by the close of day today (Wednesday), they would start testing COVID-19 in the Western Region.
In addition, he said, the NMIMR was also going to utilise the gene expert system which was prevalent in almost all health systems in various regions of the country.
“There are specific expert centres that have the gene expert machine for tuberculosis (TB) that has been developed for COVID-19. We hope that by the end of next week there will be these cassettes that can also test for COVID-19. We hope to roll out testing in these facilities to complement the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) station that has been established,” Prof. Ampofo said.
He expressed the hope that by the end of May this year, virtually every region would be able to test for COVID-19, and that the GHS and the Ministry of Health (MoH) would determine the actual strategy to be used for testing at the sites in those beneficiary areas.
Rapid diagnostic tests
On the issue of rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs), Prof. Ampofo said the guidelines had been published on the Food and Drugs Authority’s (FDA’s) website, and that some suppliers had already submitted their RDTs for evaluation.
“Evaluation is currently underway and the reports will be finalised and returned to the FDA, and the suppliers will be notified accordingly.
“The MoH and the GHS will then come up with the appropriate guidelines that will utilise the RDTs for surveillance. The PCR will remain for clinical diagnosis, and then we will be able to fashion out the appropriate approach to use the RDTs alongside the PCR,” he added.