‘NUST, Mpilo Hospital have capacity to set up COVID-19 testing facility’

The National University of Science and Technology (NUST) Applied Genetic Testing Centre is set to work with Mpilo Central Hospital in conducting tests for the Coronavirus (COVID-19) in Bulawayo.

The centre recently revealed that it had the equipment to do COVID-19 tests.

This was disclosed by Minister of Local Government and Public Works, July Moyo, who oversees the COVID-19 taskforce in Bulawayo during the weekend.

Moyo admitted the testing sample in the country remained low, which if increased more cases could arise.

“The numbers (of positive COVID-19 cases) are few but we must not be satisfied with that because our testing is also very little, when the number of testing starts going up we think we will find more,” he said in his keynote address at Ekusileni Hospital.

His sentiments buttress worries from the general populace that testing in Zimbabwe remains low, as calls have been made to decentralise the tests and increase samples.

Later in a press briefing, Moyo revealed that NUST would work with Mpilo on testing since the university indicated it could conduct the tests.

“There is equipment at NUST and equipment at Mpilo, by coupling those we can do testing here in Bulawayo. But this is national testing. The rapid testing equipment, I understand is here but not complete so they have not started using it,” he said.

“I have just said, we want testing to be done here in Bulawayo.”

In an earlier interview, Assistant Director of Health Services, Dr Khulamuzi Nyathi, had confirmed NUST has a Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) machine that can do the testing.

According to a poster flighted by the Ministry of Health and Child Care on COVID-19 Comparative Statistics Southern Africa last week, PCR testing is “the gold standard and all positive rapid diagnostic tests are confirmed by PCR.”

Moyo added that the inter-Ministerial Taskforce was also actively involved in the mapping exercise where COVID-19 test sites in all districts would be identified.

“The country has five central hospitals, 10 provincial hospitals, 52 district hospitals and when we last counted, we have 1 700 clinics. A lot of them are run by local authorities and the others by Ministry of Health and Child Care.

“What we have done in total mapping is we are not looking at the government alone, I am happy the taskforce here in Bulawayo led by Minister of State (Judith Ncube) have listed a number of clinics both in private sector and private. I see 21 of them in Bulawayo and about 19 are run by the local authority,” he said.

Meanwhile, Moyo also revealed NUST would be producing face masks and hand sanitisers that could be used by health facilities such as Ekusileni.

Source: Centre for Innovation and Technology (CITE)

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