Sunday, May 26, 2024

Botswana runs out of Covid-19 testing kits

Botswana is running out of some essential testing equipment for the Corona virus (SARS-Cov-2) it has emerged.

This is contained in a savingram from Acting Head of the National Health Laboratory Dr Madisa Mine addressed to Deputy Permanent Secretary, Health Services Management Director, Health Services District Health Management Team (DMHT) Coordinators and Hospital Superintendents.

In a savingram dated 30 January 2021 titled: “Move to use SARS-COV-2 Rapid Antigen Testing Instead of Molecular Testing,” Mine reveals: “I am writing to inform you that we are currently experiencing shortage of robotic tips in our laboratories. These tips are used in throughput automated extraction of SARS-CO-2 for molecular testing.”

He added that with the above situation and following extended discussions, they came to a conclusion that polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing should be rationalized.

“I am therefore writing to inform you that during this period, PCR testing should be reserved for the following cases; International Travels, VIP testing and emergency situation only.”

Mine stated further that during the emergency period and while waiting for the delivery of robotic tips they recommend to facilities to use SARS-COV-2 Rapid Antigen (Ag RDT) testing for contact tracing, routine testing and other forms of testing.

“Please note that rapid antigen testing will be done not at the laboratory. DHMT Coordinators should share (10 daily positive statistics and forms for positive individuals with the National Health Laboratory for compilation of national statistics, and (ii) weekly statistics of testing,” said Mine.

He further stated: “I have attached the following documents: Requisition forms for SARS-CO-2 Ag RDT and SAR-COV-2 PCR, Guidelines and algorithm for the use SARS COV 2 Rapid Antigen Testing (SARS COV Ag RDT) and the Register for capturing testing statistics at facilities.”

He further warned: “Due to high demand for SARS-COV-2 commodities and reagents, we are not sure when the robotic tips will be delivered. We are awaiting delivery of our orders in the coming weeks. We will write you a letter informing you when PCR testing normalizes.”

A senior lecturer in microbiology at the University of Sussex Dr Edward Wright is quoted as saying that PCR testing “detects the genetic information of the virus, the RNA Ribonucleic acid). That’s only possible if the virus is there and someone is actively infected.”

Reports indicate that by detecting viral RNA, which will be present in the body before antibodies form or symptoms of the disease are present, the tests can tell whether or not someone has the virus early or not.

Wright is also quoted as saying “PCR gives us a good indication of who is infected. They can be isolated and get in contact with the people they have been in touch with so they can be quarantined too just in case. That’s the true advantage of the current major diagnostic tests you can break that transmission chain and get a clearer picture of what is happening.”

On the other hand, reports show that Antigen tests can be used for screen testing in high-risk congregate settings in which repeat testing could quickly identify persons with a SARS-C0v-2 infection to inform prevention and control measures thus preventing transmission.

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