The Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research has dismissed reports suggesting the facility is overwhelmed with the number of suspected COVID-19 cases it is investigating on a daily basis.
There have been assertions on some social and traditional media platforms indicating that staff of the research facility were struggling to cope with the high volume of COVID-19 tests.
The Institute and the Kumasi Centre for Collaborative Research are designated by the government to investigate suspected cases of COVID-19 in the country.
“We are very well positioned to do the testing for COVID-19 and very well sterilized machines. We have as many as four of that equipment which can do comfortably 200 test cases each in the day and if we multiply the 200 by 4 gives 800 cases. So we can do as many cases. Since the outbreak, as at yesterday, we had tested 166 samples which are far below our capacity. So if anyone says we don’t have the capacity and we are overwhelmed it is not true.”
According to the dedicated website by the Ghana Health Service “as of 17 March 2020, a total of 143 suspected cases have been tested for COVID-19 by Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research (NMIMR) and Kumasi Centre for Collaborative Research (KCCR).”
Akandoh advocates for more COVID-19 isolation centres
The Ranking Member on Parliament’s Health Committee, Kwabena Mintah Akandoh had called for the creation of more laboratories and isolation centres across the country to ensure rapid response to suspected cases of COVID-19.
He said it was unimpressive that the country had maintained only two laboratories for case testing given the fast-spreading nature of the virus.
“At this point in time, the government must involve the private health service providers and also if Ghana has at least 16 isolation centres in the country, one in every region, that’s not beyond Ghana. They will quickly tell you Ridge hospital, Korle-Bu and a few others in Accra. We need at least one in every region. I am also not impressed with the number of labs we have in the country pre-testing the cases. We have one in Kumasi and one in Noguchi Memorial Institute, I am not impressed. I am also reliably informed that the little effort we put into Navrongo, Tamale hospital or the Korle-Bu hospital will be able to have a laboratory that can test these cases. We don’t need to transfer cases all the way to Kumasi or Accra for testing,” he said.
Mr Akandoh also argued that the State must absorb the full cost of testing of a suspected case to its treatment to encourage more voluntary testing.