The Bio-Safety Level 3 Laboratory at the Western Region Veterinary Services Department is scheduled to commence testing of COVID-19 samples from Monday, May 4.
The laboratory will start with the testing of 300 samples a day before they ramp up to over 500.
“…this testing facility has biosafety level 3 and biosafety level 2 labs which are required by WHO for testing. As we speak, we are ready to start testing today [May 4, 2020]. The staff have been trained already. All the logistics have been provided by Noguchi. Currently, we are going to start testing 300 samples a day. And as time goes on, we will increase the number,” the Head of Laboratory Western Region Veterinary Services Department, Dr. Theophilus Odoom, said.
According to him, a total of 11 people are ready to commence testing and will run a shift system to enable them to work efficiently.
“All the samples will come from the Public Health Lab in the region. We have 11 people ready for the work. We will try and run shift. We have a team for sorting, for pooling, for running and also for management of data which is also important.”
He added: “The nation and the regional health directorate are working assiduously to ensure there is always the necessary PPEs for our work. For example, the regional director said they will use their medical store to support us. So, we are confident we will not break when we start work. The regional coordinating council led by the regional minister has also been very instrumental in getting this place resourced.”
Western Region Minister Kwabena Okyere Darko-Mensah disclosed that the Region has recorded four new cases from four different districts, bringing the case count to 13.
“We have a case at Agona Nkwanta [in Ahanta West Municipal Assembly], one in Effia Kwesimentstim Municipal, one in Mpohor District and one at Ellembelle District. And like I keep saying, the virus is with us, so we must find innovative ways to manage it. One of the luckiest things I’ve realized is that most of our cases are imported, and so it is our responsibility to make sure it does not spread into the communities.”
He encouraged residents to make their personal safety their topmost priority in this “challenging times so that you do put yourself and loved ones at risk”.
“For us, we are trying our best to be ahead of the virus meaning that we have to test more so that we can quickly isolate any case and treat. The medical team are ready to help us in that direction. What is left now is for all of us to be careful about what we do. So, we will continue to stress that we all adhere strictly to the safety protocols”.
In a response to calls from the Western Region Veterinary Services Department for support to resource the two testing laboratories, the Western Regional House of Chiefs together with its Western North counterpart has presented a cheque for GH¢40,000 to the regional agriculture services.
Vice President of the Western Region House of Chiefs and Paramount Chief of Eastern Nzema Awulae Amihere Kpanynili III entreated persons who still doubt the existence of the virus to watch what is happening around the world and rethink.
“We don’t have a way to stop the virus at the moment but we can all help people who are working on finding ways to stop the virus to work without any hindrance. It is true some people are still in self-denial but if you listen to and watch what is going on around the world then you will realize this virus is not a joke. So, all the measures brought forth by the President and the medical team should be followed. I don’t think any Nana or Chief is comfortable wearing a mask but it has become necessary. So, we must all do what is required of us to help prevent the spread of the virus.”
Western Region Director of the Ghana Health Service Dr. Jacob Mahama applauded the two regional houses of chiefs for the financial support, stressing it will help put the laboratory in a good stead for its intended work.
“This help has come at an opportune time when we are about to start testing here. There are a lot of things that national cannot actually provide us. And so, the support from the House of Chiefs will go a long way to make the work easy for us. This is because, we have a big backlog and will take all these and make sure everything is done.”
The Laboratory is expecting another consignment, for the testing, from the Global Affairs, Canada which has been very instrumental in resourcing it.