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Lancet laboratories struck off list of COVID-19 testing laboratories

Kampala, Uganda |  THE INDEPENDENT | The Ministry of Health has struck off Lancet Laboratories on the list of approved covid-19 testing facilities.

The laboratory was one of the first privately accredited laboratories that were carrying out testing at 344,900 Shillings.  Many Ugandans viewed the fee as exorbitant compared to government’s testing fess of 185,000 Shillings.

Dr Susan Nabadda, the Executive Director of the Central Public Health Laboratory (CPHL) and also the person in charge of COVID-19 testing laboratories on the scientific committee says that Lancet’s removal from the testing list is temporary.

“They have been temporary removed from the list because they have shifted to a new location that needs to be re-accredited by the UVRI. Once the location has been assessed, they will continue testing. We hope they can start again soon,” Dr Nabadda said.

The laboratory was forced to move to another location due to safety fears of running a COVID-19 testing laboratory on the premises. The laboratory has now moved to Nakasero Road.

Lancet’s removal comes at a time when over 10,000 tests are carried out every day according to CPHL. In the past week, 200 cases of the disease were reported daily.

According to a list released by the health, ministry shows that only five private testing laboratories are now accredited to carry out tests. They include the Infectious Disease Institute, MBN Laboratory, Medipal International hospital, Makerere University Hospital, Mild May Laboratory and Test and Fly. 

Other accredited testing laboratories run by the government are; Uganda Virus Research Institute, Central Public Health Laboratory, Tororo Mobile laboratory, Mutukula mobile laboratory, Adjumani mobile laboratory, Joint Clinical Research Center and Uganda Cancer Institute. The International Organisation on Migration laboratory is also carrying out testing.

According to Nabadda, until assessments are completed, the laboratory is not allowed to carry out testing for COVID-19. However, when URN called the laboratory, we discovered that testing is still being carried out at the facility despite being struck off the official testing list. 

A source at the facility confirmed that testing is taking place at the facility between 900 am -5:00 pm every day. At this point, it is not clear whether the results issued by the laboratory should be viewed as accurate. 

The removal of Lancet off the testing list is likely to leave a big gap in the testing capacity of the country. According to the facility, over 100 people, mainly travellers go to the center to be tested daily. 

Nabadda says the country will likely be carrying out less testing of the disease now that Lancet will not be testing. 

“We shall likely see a decline in testing numbers but we hope they shall pick up again when they have completed their assessment,” she said.

 

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