As Zimbabwe joins the rest of the world in fighting the Covid-19 pandemic, most Zimbabweans are questioning if the country is able to test as many cases as possible. Others are questioning if there even is such a machine to do the testing.
National Microbiology Reference Laboratory (NMRL) Acting Coordinator, Mr Xavier Mazarura indicated that indeed the country has a testing centre and explained, in detail, about the testing process, machinery and personnel requirements.
“Zimbabwe currently has one COVID-19 testing centre situated at the National Microbiology Reference Laboratory (NMRL) situated at Sally Mugabe Central Hospital in Harare therefore the laboratory receives samples from all provinces for testing.
The NMRL can test up to 400 samples per day using the real-time Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) machine. The test are conducted using the PCR diagnostic method which has a 100% accuracy rate. The testing process takes about 5 hours,” said Mazarura.
For total quality management purposes, tested samples are also send to South Africa for further confirmation of the results.
“As a standard and quality control procedure, the tested samples are also sent to South Africa for a second test,” added Mazarura.
Members of the public need not panic when it comes to the capacity to handle a large number of samples for testing as there are other centres and laboratories where testing can be done.
“In the event that the NMRL testing centre becomes overwhelmed, other samples can be send to the Biomedical Research and Training Institute (BRTI), National Virology Reference Laboratory at Parirenyatwa Hospital and the African Institute of Biomedical Sciences and Technology (AiBST) at Wilkins Hospital,” revealed Mazarura.
Some people are worried to the extent of questioning if the country has the required manpower and enough machines to do the job expeditiously. However, Mazarura allayed those fears pointing out the available machines and workforce.
“Zimbabwe has the expertise and manpower to test for COVID-19. The country has a total of 167 Gene Expert Machines.
“Of these Gene Expert Machines, 132 are housed in public health institutions would soon be used for COVID-19 testing in Provincial and District Hospitals. Government has also engaged private institutions to come on board and complement in COVID-19 testing,” concluded Mazarura.