UHAS ready to test more COVID-19 samples

The head of the Biomedical Laboratory Scientists of the University of Health and Allied Sciences (UHAS) Dr. Kwabena Duedu has announced that the university’s laboratory can test 75 COVID-19 samples daily.

Speaking at a short ceremony to herald the opening of the laboratory to begin testing for COVID-19, Dr Duedu indicated that the laboratory could however test more samples if they were to work for 24 hours.

He said the university has enough personnel with some on standby, but has limited test kits and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

Calling for more support, Dr Duedu indicated that all infectious waste would be autoclaved, sterilized, and then moved to an incinerator as required to make them non-infectious before appropriate disposal.

The Volta Regional Minister, Dr Archibald Yao Letsa, expressed satisfaction at the University’s high level of preparedness with the availability of necessary equipment at the laboratory.

He gave the assurance that the Government would supply more PPE to the facility.

The Vice-Chancellor of the University, Professor John Gyapong, was grateful to the Minister and said the medical team was fully prepared and ready to help combat the Coronavirus disease.

Meanwhile, the Director of Public Affairs of UHAS Mrs Maria Gwira, in a statement said the preparedness of the University had increased its visibility as a leading institution in the field of Public Health.

She said on February 28, 2020, the Vice-Chancellor of the University in collaboration with the Acting Chief Executive Officer of Ho Teaching Hospital (HTU), Dr. John Tampouri, assembled a task force that designed a preparedness and response strategy to address the pandemic in UHAS and HTH.

The taskforce, Mrs Gwira pointed out, was chaired by Professor Harry Tagbor, Dean of the School of Medicine, and assigned with the responsibility to sensitize the public in and around the University.

It was also to establish clinical and diagnostic protocols for potential cases in the Ho Municipality.

Mrs Gwira announced that a total of four working groups were formed from the task force and were tasked to tackle clinical issues, laboratory issues, educational campaigns, and advocacy and publicity.

She said the groups have so far developed various strategies, which have been implemented.

Mrs Gwira added that the advocacy and publicity subgroup had also launched a Public Awareness Campaign dubbed, “Say No to Coronavirus in Ho: Know how to protect yourself.”

She said two members of the laboratory subgroup from the School of Basic and Biomedical Sciences and School of Allied Health Sciences also received additional training from the Virology Department, Noguchi Memorial Institute of Medical Research on March 3, 2020, on the protocol and techniques used for diagnosing COVID-19 from clinical specimens.

Mrs Gwira added that the laboratory subgroup has since been putting in structures to enable testing to be conducted in UHAS for health facilities in and around Ho Municipality.

The University, she added, upon request from the Hohoe Government Hospital, made available the clinical trial facilities at its School of Public Health to be used to temporarily quarantine hospital staff who may have come in contact with the two COVID-19 positive patients being treated there.

She said Government has recognised those efforts by the University by tasking it with testing suspected samples to diagnose COVID-19, with President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, naming the University as one of the institutions to do testing for COVID-19 in his 7th address on COVID-19 on April 12, 2020.

“UHAS management has assured the UHAS community that the University’s team of scientists are all highly qualified, well-trained, and experienced laboratory scientists who will observe all safety protocols to ensure that UHAS campuses remain safe for day-to-day activities,” she stated.