The Ghana Medical Association (GMA) on Wednesday, called on government to upgrade the Kintampo Health Research Centre (KHRC) to enable it to test and boost the national testing of suspected cases of the COVID-19.
According to the GMA, the KHRC’s laboratory has the capacity in terms of human resource and infrastructure, and it would only need a qPCR machine worth US$30,000 for testing of COVID-19 cases.
Speaking at a news conference in Sunyani, Dr. Alexander Kofi Egote, the Bono, Bono East and Ahafo Regional Chairman of the GMA said the KHRC’s laboratory was used for similar disease outbreak investigations in 2015 for meningitis.
He noted with concern recent increase in the “turnaround time for COVID-19 test results due to increasing backlog of cases at the Kumasi Centre for Collaborative Research (KCCR), which received test samples from Bono, Bono East and Ahafo Regions.
“Currently, it takes an average of five to seven days to receive results of samples sent to KCCR and this negatively impacts our efforts in managing the pandemic”.
“This turnaround time for the test results leads to suspected cases being kept in holding centres for longer periods and while awaiting laboratory confirmation, the limited personal protective equipment (PPE) are utilized for their care, most of whom eventually turn out to be negative”.
Flanked by other executives of the Association, Dr. Egote explained this potentially increased risk of spread of the virus to health workers and other patients when the centres eventually become crammed by suspected cases awaiting results.
“It also hampers efforts for effective contact tracing activities, which is crucial in containing local and community spread of the disease”, he added.
Dr. Egote called on government, its development partners and all stakeholders to support and urgently see to the upgrade of the KHRC as a COVID-19 testing centre.
He commended the unflinching support of the government, Municipal and District Assemblies, health workers, traditional authorities, security services and the media in ensuring that the three regions remained a safe haven.
He urged the populace to apply the social distancing measures, frequent washing of hands with soap under running water, and frequent use of alcohol-based hand sanitizers as well as appropriate wearing of recommended nose masks to protect themselves and others around them.
“Above all, we must ensure that we eat nutritious food, drink a lot of water, have adequate rest and also report early when you feel unwell for prompt evaluation”, Dr. Egote advised.
On COVID-19 cases, Dr. Egote said the three regions had not reported any confirmed case, but added that the results of 54 out of the 75 suspected cases reported in the Bono Region have tested negative. The remaining 21 results are pending at the KCCR, while 496 rumoured cases had been recorded and investigated.
He added 186 people in the region were being monitored and followed up in the various districts.
The Bono East Region has also recorded 111 suspected cases, received results for 44 cases which are all negative, and 67 results outstanding, Dr. Egote said, adding that the Ahafo Region had recorded 16 suspected cases, received results for 15, which were all negative with one pending.