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General News of Tuesday, 28 April 2020

Source: GNA

COVID19: UHAS to test 75 samples a day

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Dr. Kwabena Duedu, head of the Biomedical Laboratory Scientists of the University of Health and Allied Sciences (UHAS) says the laboratory can test 75 COVID-19 samples daily.

Addressing a short ceremony to herald the opening of the laboratory to begin testing for COVID-19, he said they could, however, test more if they were to work for 24 hours.

Dr. Duedu said they had enough personnel with some on standby, but had limited test kits and Personal Protective Equipment and called for support.

He said all infectious waste would be autoclaved, sterilized, and then moved to an incinerator as required to make them non-infectious before appropriate disposal.

Dr Archibald Yao Letsa, Volta Regional Minister, expressed satisfaction at the University's high level of preparedness with the availability of necessary equipment at the laboratory and gave the assurance that the Government would supply more PPE to the facility.

Professor John Gyapong, Vice-Chancellor of the University was grateful to the Minister and said the medical team was fully prepared and ready to help combat the Coronavirus disease.

Mrs Maria Gwira, Director of Public Affairs, UHAS in a statement signed and copied the Ghana News Agency said the preparedness of the University had increased its visibility as a leading institution in the field of Public Health.

She said on February 28, 2020, the Vice-Chancellor of the University in collaboration with the Acting Chief Executive Officer of Ho Teaching Hospital (HTU), Dr. John Tampouri, assembled a task force that designed a preparedness and response strategy to address the pandemic in UHAS and HTH.

The Director of Public Affairs said the taskforce was chaired by Professor Harry Tagbor, Dean of the School of Medicine, and assigned with the responsibility to sensitize the public in and around the University and establish clinical and diagnostic protocols for potential cases in the Ho Municipality.

Mrs Gwira said a total of four working groups were formed from the task force and were tasked to tackle clinical issues, laboratory issues, educational campaigns, and advocacy and publicity.

She said the groups had so far developed various strategies, which had been implemented, adding that the advocacy and publicity subgroup had also launched a Public Awareness Campaign dubbed, “Say No to Coronavirus in Ho: Know how to protect yourself."

Mrs Gwira said two members of the laboratory subgroup from the School of Basic and Biomedical Sciences and School of Allied Health Sciences also received additional training from the Virology Department, Noguchi Memorial Institute of Medical Research on March 3, 2020, on the protocol and techniques used for diagnosing COVID-19 from clinical specimens.

She said the laboratory subgroup had since been putting in structures to enable testing to be conducted in UHAS for health facilities in and around Ho Municipality.

Mrs Gwira said the University, upon request from the Hohoe Government Hospital, had made available the clinical trial facilities at its School of Public Health to be used to temporarily quarantine hospital staff who may have come in contact with the two COVID-19-positive patients being treated there.

She said Government had recognized those efforts by the University by tasking it with testing suspected samples to diagnose COVID-19, with President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo, naming the University as one of the institutions to do testing for COVID-19 in his 7th address on COVID-19 on April 12, 2020.

“UHAS management has assured the UHAS community that the University’s team of scientists are all highly qualified, well-trained, and experienced laboratory scientists who will observe all safety protocols to ensure that UHAS campuses remain safe for day-to-day activities," she stated.