Makerere University Hospital to Start COVID19 Testing

Makerere University hospital is set to start conducting Corona Virus Disease-COVID-19 tests, making the institution the second in the country to conduct such tests.

Makerere University Vice Chancellor, Professor Barnabas Nawangwe, says they have already received 40,000 testing kits from donors.

In a virtual press conference on Tuesday, Professor Nawangwe said that they are currently finalising details for implementation, which will enable them to start performing PCR based molecular tests, the same as currently being performed solely by the Uganda Virus Research Institute.

To get a solution for the challenge that such tests can only be done in the laboratory and only a few can be done within a specified time, they are coming up with rapid test kits done at the point of care, which will cost one just a dollar to know their COVID -19 status compared the current US$65 per test. 

Professor Nawangwe says their researcher and virologist Dr. Misaki Wayengera is leading the research into the cheaper tests, which also take just about five minutes to get results. 

Prof. Nawangwe says their kit that involves using a swab-tube dipstick to do an antigen test by use of a nasal sample might even cost less than a dollar per test.  

He explains that with this quick test, once the nasopharyngeal sample is obtained, it’s placed back into its tube containing reagents that detect the virus surface protein. “On shaking, a positive result will be visualized as formation of particles like what is seen when clear milk, goes bad,” he said. 

While it’s still unclear when exactly this will be rolled out for general use, it comes at the time officials are struggling to have timely tests and confirmation for truck drivers who have become the country’s new biggest threat since positive cases are set to continue with their journeys as they await results from UVRI.

Addressing a press conference on Saturday, Health Minister, Jane Ruth Aceng said mobile and rapid tests will come in handy to tackle the challenge. For now, all the 58 cases so far confirmed in the country have had their samples transported to UVRI and results returned later.  

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Abitegeka Gerald

The News Editor ,Reporter at Kagadi Kibaale community Radio

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