Covid-19: Mat North starts own PCR testing

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By Matabeleland North Correspondent

THE Matabeleland North Covid-19 taskforce has announced the province has started doing Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) tests using GeneXpert machines.

The tests would be done at St Lukes in Lupane, Hwange Colliery in Hwange and Victoria Falls Hospital in the resort town.

Authorities said this will improve turnaround time and increase time taken to process results.

This comes in the wake of complaints over delays in release of results especially by returning locals detained at various quarantined centres across the country.

Some claimed this has given rise to acts of corruption among authorities who are taking bribes to quicken the release of results among a few individuals.

The province has been sending swabs and samples to Bulawayo for PCR confirmation.

In a statement Monday, the provincial taskforce team said people will now be tested free of charge in the province.

“We would like to inform the public that both of the GeneXpert machines in Victoria Falls have been serviced and reprogrammed to test for Covid-19.

“This means that we will be processing samples locally and will have a much quicker turn around on results, which in turn will allow for much quicker reaction to suspected cases,” read part of the statement.

A geneXpert machine is used for rapid tuberculosis diagnosis.

“If you suspect you have coronavirus, please contact the emergency hotline numbers. This testing is free, but will only be conducted on those showing symptoms or suspected of having been in contact with an infected person as per the Rapid Response Protocols or as determined by a medical practitioner,” stated the taskforce in the statement.

The province, together with Mashonalnd Central, has the lowest number of confirmed cases with 15 and 10 respectively as of Monday.

Matabeleland North recorded the country’s first case and had managed to remain with minimal number of cases until last week when cases shot from six to the current 15.

Three have recovered in the province.

The taskforce which is chaired by Minister of State Richard Moyo has urged people to continue to follow good hygiene practices, social distancing guidelines and wearing masks or face coverings over nose and mouth in public.

“People in the most vulnerable groups must especially take precautions – this includes people with diabetes, overweight, over 60 years of age, HIV patients not on antiretroviral, TB or high blood pressure.

“Any person testing positive will be asked to self-isolate at home under medical supervision, unless they are in need of medical assistance. The latest cases have been isolated.