Coronavirus: Health Economist stresses need to focus on increasing testing capacity
The government needs to focus on building the processing and testing capacity of laboratories in Ghana as it moves to deal with the novel coronavirus pandemic, Nana Kofi Quakyi, a health economist, has said.
With the cases of the virus expected to rise sharply in the short term, Mr. Quakyi noted on Citi TV‘s The Point of View that Ghana was at a stage where testing was paramount.
“Accurate speedy testing is the game here. We have to be able to detect these things early so we can begin isolation protocols if we need to.”
As it stands now, he says Ghana’s testing capacity is below par.
“What we are seeing right here is a case were our daily testing capacity is limited to under 1,000. For a population of 31 million, that is not going be enough especially if we are not picking up many asymptomatic cases.”
“If we are limited in daily processing capacity, the speed at which we’re going to know the things we need to know is just not going to allow us to keep up the pace with reality,” Mr. Quakyi noted.
Currently, only the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research and the Kumasi Centre for Collaborative Research are testing for the virus.
“Even if we have 100,000 test kits, it is not going to change how many tests we can do per day. The question is the throughput. We have to have the kits but the throughput also has to be enough to meet it,” Mr. Quakyi said.
Globally, the standard-bearer in testing has been South Korea which is now testing more than 20,000 people per day.
A lot of countries did not start to ramp up testing capacity until local case numbers began to soar rapidly.
The World Health Organisation has advised countries to make testing the central part of their strategy in the fight against the novel coronavirus pandemic.