Zim hampered by reagent shortages

©️ THE government said yesterday that it was being held back by the global shortage of reagents needed to conduct coronavirus tests, in its quest to expand its testing programme, the Daily News reports.
This comes as doctors have implored the government to conduct more tests for Covid-19, warning that failure to do this could lead to a catastrophe as winter sets in.
Health and Child Care minister Obadiah Moyo told the Daily News yesterday that the government still aimed to conduct more tests, but was being held back by the global shortage of reagents.
“There is a global shortage of reagents. In our case, we still have some reagents in our stock, but we need to re-stock and also ensure that we increase our testing capacity and have the efficient Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) testing which is the gold standard.
“Our goal is to make sure that we test as many people as possible, and that definitely requires more reagents,” he said.
Moyo also said the government planned to test at least 2 000 people a day, to contain the spread of the lethal virus in the country — which would be a significant increase from the current average of 1 000 a day.
So far, Zimbabwe has recorded four deaths from the 37 confirmed cases of the disease. About nine of these people are also said to have fully recovered from the virus.
Meanwhile, health experts have once again implored authorities to embark on mass testing of people and increasing surveillance at ports of entry, in the wake of the rising incidence of coronavirus in the country through local transmission.
The doctors said the rising Covid-19 local transmissions were a red flag which demanded more testing in communities to establish the exact prevalence of the disease in the country.
The calls came as the country is facing major constraints relating to its coronavirus testing capacity at its main laboratory in Harare — amid the rising infections.
“To address the continuing cases of local transmission, we need to scale up our testing.
“We need to go into the communities and conduct widespread tests to find where the cases are, isolate them, trace their contacts and treat them accordingly.
“For now, the numbers of diagnostic tests we have conducted are very few, leaving open the possibility of many people unknowingly being infected by the virus and transmitting it,” the chairperson of the Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights (ZADHR), Fortune Nyamande, said earlier this week.
Public health expert, Prosper Chonzi, also told the Daily News that authorities were worried about the increase in local transmissions.
“This (local transmission) raises questions on whether we are doing enough. Are we also doing surveillance at our entry points?
“People with the virus may be coming in sick without showing any symptoms and not visiting our health facilities.
“At the end of the day, they end up spreading the disease in their communities,” Chonzi, who is also Harare City
Council director for health, said.
“More testing is thus needed for us to understand how big our outbreak is, so that we can come up with proper interventions,” he added.


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