Mpilo Lab resumes COVID-19 testing

The National TB Reference Laboratory at Mpilo Central Hospital in Bulawayo has resumed COVID-19 testing after it had stopped due to lack of consumables.

The Level 3 biosafety laboratory conducts Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) tests to detect the novel coronavirus.

But, the testing centre complained there was a lack of support from the government, a situation which forced the laboratory to conduct only urgent tests, resulting in a backlog of ‘over 1 000 samples.’

Instead, the testing centre was forced to cannibalise stock from the Applied Genetics Testing Centre at the National University of Science and Technology (NUST).

In an interview with CITE, Acting Bulawayo Provincial Medical Director, Dr Welcome Mlilo, confirmed that the laboratory had resumed testing.

“The laboratory has been running since sometime last week and we have been receiving results for the past five days, which are read in the Ministry of Health and Childcare statistics,” he said.

Dr Mlilo said the challenges that were there faced by the laboratory had been solved.

“We are now receiving daily updates, there are no challenges as results are now coming. This is why we managed to re-test the COVID-19 patients in Bulawayo and register four recoveries. This must show you that we are doing the tests,” he noted.

Contacted for comment, staff at the Mpilo laboratory also corroborated that testing was now on.

“We now have to manage the over 1 000 backlog of samples that have tested. We now have the consumables but after we had to complain publicly, a situation which must not happen,” said some of the clinicians who refused to be named in fear of victimisation

According to a May 16 update by the Ministry of Health and Child Care, Bulawayo now has four recoveries out of the 12 confirmed cases.

Out of the 12, seven patients are still active plus one death.

Nationally, the number of people who are positive for COVID-19 in Zimbabwe are now 44.

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