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WHO in drive to boost rural Covid-19 testing

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Tarisai Machakaire 

SENIOR STAFF WRITER

machakairet@dailynews.co.zw

THE World Health Organisation (WHO) has intensified efforts to boost Zimbabwe’s Covid-19 testing capabilities after completing training of health staffers in remote Beitbridge areas. 

This comes amid calls for the Health ministry to increase Covid-19 testing across all areas, including in rural areas, to improve management of the spread and treatment of the respiratory virus.

As of Saturday, Zimbabwe had recorded 1 193 deaths and 33 273 confirmed cases of the deadly virus.

Testing and isolating those who have contracted the virus is one of the most effective ways in combating the pandemic.

WHO experts trained rural health staff in Makombe, Chaswingo, Dete, Chikwarakwara, Tsitulipasi, Swereki, Zenzani, Chamhangana and Masera in Beitbridge district on using antigen RDT as a diagnostic test for Covid-19.

“(Last) week WHO supported in boosting national capacity to perform Covid-19 antigen RTD tests.

“The training enabled health workers in rural health facilities to use RDT as a diagnostic test to collect samples for antigen testing, resulting interpretation, reporting of results and engagement of rapid response activities in case of positive cases.

“High-performance antigen RDT is the most flexible test to deploy across settings to reduce Covid-19 transmission,” WHO said in a statement at the weekend.

Ever since the virus reached these shores, most of the testing and awareness campaigns have been happening mainly in urban settings in Harare, Bulawayo, Mutare, Gweru and Masvingo.

However, rural areas have been left behind which is why WHO is now moving in to complement the government’s efforts.

WHO’s efforts also come at a time that ordinary Zimbabweans cannot afford a PCR test which is going for US$60.

The high cost of this test has opened the door for rogue elements in the medical and printing fields, who are now providing fraudulent certificates to desperate travellers for as little as US$15.

For anyone to travel into or out of Zimbabwe, they need to produce a Covid-19 free PCR certificate issued less than 48 hours before the date of travel.

In that regard, the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) has stepped in to ensure sanity prevails in this sector as these fake certificates have the potential to derail the government’s efforts of curbing the spread of the pandemic.

“Following recent press reports of a scam involving the issuance of fake Covid-19 test results by a local private laboratory testing centre, Zacc has received several reports implicating other testing centres.

“A Zacc crack team has been put in place to probe these reports in order to swiftly bring the culprits to book…,” Zacc spokesperson John Makamure said last week.

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