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    Wednesday, 13 May 2020

    Masvingo Hosp to start conclusive Covid-19 tests

    Dr Amadeus Shamhu.
     Morris Bishi
    Masvingo – Masvingo Province which has all along depended on Harare for final and conclusive Covid-19 tests will in the next few days go independent following the introduction of GeneXpert Platform tests.
    GeneXpert Platform is currently being used at the hospital to test for TB and has been modified to test for Covid -19.
    Masvingo Provincial Medical Director Dr Amadeus Shamhu told The Mirror that GeneXpert is just as accurate and conclusive as the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) that is being used for Covid-19 tests in Harare and Bulawayo.
    For a GeneXpert Platform to test for Covid-19 one needs to change the cartridge.
    “We are waiting for cartridges from Harare which we expect anytime soon and thereafter we start conclusive tests for Covid-19 at the hospital,” said Dr Shamhu.
    The GeneXpert Platform was widely deployed about a decade ago to rapidly detect tuberculosis, including multi drug resistant strains. It has since been adapted to enable rapid testing of not only HIV and hepatitis C but also influenza, Ebola and sexually transmitted diseases.
    “Instead of waiting for PCR tests that are only done in Harare and Bulawayo, more accurate Covid-19 tests will soon be done here in Masvingo using the GeneXpert Platform. These are machines which we use for testing drug resistant tuberculosis but only need appropriate cartridges for Covid-19. We are waiting for cartridges so that we can start conclusive tests here” said Shamhu.
    Some private players were also licensed to test for Covid-19 but there is an outcry that their charges cost an arm and a leg. There currently is a huge backlog in tests and the turnaround time for results is long.
    Currently Zimbabwe has 133 GeneXpert machines at all provincial and district hospitals.
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    1. One of the reasons why covid-19 has been turned from a tragedy into a catastrophe of Biblical proportion is Zimbabwe’s failure to test and track aggressively.

      The country received 50 000 test kits in mid-April 2020 and promised to ramp up testing to 1 000 per day, up from about 40 or so per day. The regime promised to do 30 000 by end of April. As of yesterday, 17 May the country had only done 28 019 tests. Masvingo is one of the provinces that has done very few tests, if at all.

      People like Dr Shamhu must be held to account for the hundreds of thousands of covid-19 deaths all because the opportunity to contain the virus was lost because no one was testing and tracking the virus for months!


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