Gulu, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Gulu University Laboratory has tested over 600 samples of Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) since being accredited by the Ministry of Health and Uganda Virus Research Institute – UVRI in January.
The samples were tested from February 22 to March 18 and drawn from neighbouring districts of Kitgum, Agago, Gulu, Pader, Lamwo, Omoro, Nwoya and Amuru in the Acholi sub-region.
The 4.5 million dollars’ complex laboratory under the Faculty of Medicine was constructed with a subsidy from the African Development Bank and commissioned by President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni in January 2020. It can run 1,000 test samples in 24 hours.
Dr Richard Echodu the Laboratory Director reveals that at least five of every 100 COVID-19 samples that are submitted to them through Gulu Regional Referral Hospital for analysis have been turning positive.
James Onono Ojok, the Assistant Public Relations Officer of the University, says that the Lab is being manned by 16 staff, three of whom are PhD holders in medical laboratory technology.
The new facility is among other 15 accredited labs in the country by the government to undertake COVID-19 investigations.
Onono added that the University has also been granted GBP 500,000 an equivalent of about 2.5 billion shillings from the United Kingdom Research Council which they have used to procure 25,000 test kits to benefit the refugee community in Lamwo and Adjumani Districts.
While community samples from the community are tested at no cost, corporate entities can also now conduct regular COVID-19 screening for their staff at a fee determined by the government between the ranges of 150,000 – 180,000 Shillings.
The development brings a sigh of relief for the timely management of COVID-19 cases in the region and saves the time lost in referring the sample tests to either Adjumani Government Hospital or Uganda Virus Research Institute in Entebbe, a distance of 150Km and 350Km apart respectively.
According to the Ministry of Health, other laboratories accredited to carry out COVID-19 testing in Uganda are Central Public Health Lab (CPHL), Infectious Disease Institute (IDI) Lab, Makerere University, Mild May Laboratory, Tororo Mobile Lab, Mutukula Mobile Lab, Joint Clinical Research Center, Lancet Laboratories, MBN Lab, Medipal International Hospital, Test and Fly Laboratory, Uganda Cancer Institute, Fred Hutchison Laboratory and IOM Laboratory.
Statistics from the Health Ministry indicate that overall, Uganda has recorded a total of 40,671 cases out of which 15,133 have recovered and 334 deaths from a period spanning March 2020 to date.