Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Seven laboratories have been added onto the testing network for COVID-19 in the country. Until yesterday, the country was only using the Entebbe based Uganda Virus Research Institute-UVRI to conduct COVID-19 tests.
The new centres include Makerere University’s department of microbiology and immunology, National Health Laboratory Services, the Infectious Disease Research Collaboration in Tororo district, the Uganda Virus Research Institute Plague Laboratory in Arua district, Gulu University, Rakai Health Sciences Laboratory and the Fort Portal Regional Referral Hospital laboratory.
According to the health ministry, the locations were chosen based on the dynamics of infection spread of the disease and the availability of testing reagents. Health Minister Dr Jane Ruth Aceng announced this during the third national COVID-19 briefing held yesterday in Kampala.
She said that currently, the Uganda Virus Research Institute is running between 2000-3000 tests every day. However, with the addition of new laboratories, the county could run up to 10,000 tests.
In addition to adding more testing laboratories, she said that the health ministry has finalized plans to introduce Genexpert machines at the Mutukula and Malaba points of entry. The machines will be able to produce results in a shorter time.
The introduction of the new laboratories comes at a time when the health ministry is planning to carry out mass surveillance where they are targeting to test atleast 8.6 million Ugandans. Atek Kagirita, the health ministry COVID-19 incident commander says that mass testing is needed for the country to get a good picture of where the virus is.
“Right now we cannot say that we know where the virus is. But if we test at least 20 percent of our population, we shall have a good picture of where the virus is in the country,” Kagirita said.
One of the measures that the World Health Organisation advises all countries to put in place before lockdowns are lifted is to ensure that countries have the ability to carry out mass testing if need arises.