Prior to COVID-19 reaching the shores of Ghana, Ghana’s leading biomedical research facility in the country, Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research (NMIMR), was reported to have a virology department capable of undertaking a minimum of 1,000 tests per day.
But with cases of COVID-19 being recorded in the country and the enhanced contact tracing and testing protocol put in place, the NMIMR had to achieve maximum capacity of conducting between 2000 to 3000 tests per day.
However, Kofi Bonney Ph.D. Senior Research Fellow at the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research (NMIMR) has disclosed that with a new strategy being put in place, the research facility can conduct about 5,000 COVID-19 tests per day.
He made this revelation in an interview with Happy98.9FM’s Samuel Eshun on the Happy Morning Show. “We increased the number of people doing the testing and we added the pooling strategy to our testing procedure”.
According to him, the “pooling strategy” has also gone a long way to save them a lot of testing kits.
Explaining the concept of pooling, the Doctor noted that the “strategy of pooling” is used mostly on individuals in the same home or compound which is effective and also increases their ability to do more tests in a short space. He described that the status of about 10 people can be identified by just running a test from a single sample. “After the test, the infected persons amongst the 10 can be identified through separation and comparison which cuts down the test time”, he pointed out.
He noted that if 2 teams worked on over “200 or 250 clusters per day through the pooling strategy, then each team through pooling could come out with 2,500 results totaling 5,000 tests per day”, he said.
Dr. Bonney further explained that all nine (9) departments at the NMIMR are now undertaking the COVID-19 testing speeding up testing. “Consolidating all departments, we now have 2 teams of 70 people each running a 24hour shift with each team working 12hours per day,” also contributing to the facilities increased testing capacity.
READ MORE: Ghanaians should be concerned about number of coronavirus cases in the country – Noguchi
Information on COVID-19 on the official Ghana Health Service (GHS) website indicates that “total COVID-19 samples tested so far now stands at 68,591 with 1.52% testing positive”.
But some medical experts and political parties have doubted the capacity of testing centers saying, “Government’s figures don’t add up; Noguchi, KCCR and Korle-Bu lack capacity to do 68,000 tests”.