Ghana’s COVID-19 testing capacity is expected to increase to about 20,000 each week.
This is according to the head of Virology at the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research, Professor William Ampofo.
He disclosed that the centre has taken delivery of bulk testing equipment, reagents and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
Speaking to Citi News, Prof Ampofo said they have since distributed the equipment and materials to testing centres across the country.
“We have received the bulk of the supplies including the reagents. So we have started distributing reagents to the existing testing sites. There are some essential parts of the PCR equipment yet to arrive. So when those parts arrive, then we will begin to review current testing and then strategically place the new PCR machines and the existing sites have some of the equipment added on. With regards to the GeneXpert platform, we are still waiting for the GeneXpert cassette which will enable us to test for COVID-19 on that platform in selected localities which will include the Upper West, Upper East, Central and parts of the old Brong Ahafo Region.”
Prof. Ampofo also added that plans to have centres across all the 16 regions are on course.
“This will mean the plan to have a PCR site in each of the regions can be achieved shortly. Then we will then be able to work out what exactly is the load of the testing. When we did the estimation, we were close to about 20, 000 tests per week we are able to distribute them across the ten centres. So we are looking at how that can be done and sustained”, he noted.
Meanwhile, Professor William Ampofo who admitted that there is a three-week-backlog-of-samples to be tested, outlined what is being done to resolve the issue.
“We have a backlog so we are currently looking at how to get rid of those samples that are over three weeks. So we are looking at how that can be addressed”, he said.
COVID-19 testing concerns
Occasionally, the Ghana Medical Association (GMA) warns that the country’s coronavirus case management may hit a snag if steps are not immediately taken to ensure the release of test results within 24 hours.
They argue that the delays in releasing samples taken have become a source of worry given the adverse impact the situation is having on their operations.
The Association also demands the “expansion of the current testing sites and their capacities, with all 16 regions equipped with testing sites”.
It, therefore, wants the Ministry of Health and Ghana Health Service to address the recurring issues of shortages of test kits.
The group also raised concerns about the government’s failure to honour its promise to re-engineer the then GeneXpert machines dotted around the country for COVID-19 testing.