Dr Kwabena Duedu, Head of the Biomedical Laboratory Scientists of the University of Health and Allied Sciences (UHAS), says the university’s 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 can, however, test more if they are to work for 24 hours.
Dr Duedu said they have enough personnel, with some on standby, but have limited test kits and Personal Protective Equipment. He therefore called for support to enable them expand their testing capacity.
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, the Volta Regional Minister, expressed satisfaction at the university’s high level of preparedness with the availability of the necessary equipment at the laboratory. He gave the assurance that the Government would supply more PPE to the facility.
Professor John Gyapong, the Vice-Chancellor of the university, was grateful to the Minister, and said the medical team is fully prepared and ready to help combat the coronavirus disease.
Mrs Maria Gwira, Director of Public Affairs, UHAS, in a statement said the preparedness of the university has 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 taskforce that designed a preparedness and response strategy to address the pandemic in UHAS and HTH.
She said the taskforce, chaired by Professor Harry Tagbor, Dean of the School of Medicine, was 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 have so far developed various strategies, which have been implemented, adding that the advocacy and publicity subgroup has 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 has 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, has 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.