Saturday, March 28, 2020

Zimbabwe Covid-19 Testing to Decentralize
28 MAR, 2020 - 00:03
Paidamoyo Chipunza
Senior Health Reporter

Government is decentralising laboratory testing for coronavirus specimens with the National University of Science and Technology (NUST) in Bulawayo joining the National Reference Laboratory in Harare for the confirming tests, while rapid test kits will be distributed across the country.

NUST was identified as one of the centres to provide similar tests to those conducted at the National Reference Laboratory housed at Sally Mugabe Central Hospital in Harare and plans for using the university were already at an advanced stage.

In addition to these main confirming tests, Government was looking at availing rapid test kits for Covid-19.

These would be distributed across the country to ensure that all suspected cases receive preliminary results as soon as 15 minutes after testing, with only confirmatory laboratory tests required at the two main facilities.

In a recent interview with Zimpapers Television Network (ZTN), Health and Child Care Minister Dr Obadiah Moyo said Covid-19 testing and confirmation were a critical part in managing the outbreak.

“What we have put in place for our system is to establish a testing system. We must be able to test and confirm whether someone has the disease or not. So, as far as testing is concerned, what we would really want to have is a system where we have the rapid test kits, which takes about 15 minutes and if you come out positive, you then upgrade to another testing scheme, which is the confirmatory.”

Speaking during the same interview, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa described the response from universities as encouraging.

“It is very encouraging news coming from the institutions, universities are actually prepared to assist us in this response,” said Minister Mutsvangwa.

She said Government was planning on decentralising not only testing facilities, but also isolation facilities.

Meanwhile, non-governmental players continued to pledge financial and material support towards the fight against Covid-19.

The United States through its development agency, USAID, has pledged US$470 000 towards the fight against Covid-19.

Through this funding, the World Health Organisation will work with Government to implement life-saving activities such as preparing laboratories for large-scale testing of Covid-19, implementing a public health emergency plan for points of entry and activating case finding and evidence-based surveillance for influenza like illnesses.

“This assistance will be built on the ongoing investments by the US in Zimbabwe’s health sector,” said USAID Mission director Stephanie Funk.

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