Each of the 47 counties will have a laboratory with the capacity to test for Covid-19 in two weeks, the Ministry of Health says.
This will be made possible after the Pharmacy and Poisons Board (PPB) shortened the period for certifying test kits and other equipment used in the tests. Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe said the board has already authorised use of four test kits.
These are COBAS SAR–Covid-2 Test kit by Roche Diagnostics, Xpert Xpress SARS CoV-2 by Cepheid, Biofire Covid-19 Test by Biofire Defence LLC and Abbott by Abbott Molecular Inc.
Kagwe said the board is implementing stringent, expedited accreditation mechanism which has shrunk the process of certifying test kits from three months to 48 hours.
Covid 19 Time Series
“With this approach, our capacity for testing will be expanded from the current 10 to cover at least one laboratory in each county. This is expected to take place in the next two weeks,” said the CS.
Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital, which serves 22 counties, is the latest centre to be activated to test for Covid-19. Other testing centres are National Influenza Laboratory in Nairobi, Kenya Medical Research Institute (Nairobi), Kemri Welcome Trust Kilifi County, Kemri CDC Kisumu County and the Kenyatta National Hospital.
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Some private labs are also testing, among them Aga Khan Hospital and Lancet Group of Laboratories. “We request that incoming applications are uploaded along with requisite documentation to PPB portal www.prims.pharmacyboardkenya.org or [email protected],” he said.
This fast accreditation is set to aid the government in its move for mass testing, targeting clustered populations among them health workers and Kenya Ports Authority staff.
Director General of Health Patrick Amoth said while the model showed the number of cases would be 5,000 by this time of the month, this has not been the case necessarily due to low testing capacity.
“If you look at the samples tested, because of the global supply challenges with regard to testing kits and commodities used for sampling, we have not picked the numbers we anticipated,” he said. “Going forward, we hope as we test more, we can reflect back and see if those figures match what we postulated.”
So far, 13,872 samples have been tested out of which 281 are positive, 11 being the latest confirmed cases. Of these, seven are Kenyans from Mombasa Old Town while four are foreigners from Ruaka, Nairobi. None has a history of travel.
Seven are from quarantine centres while four are from contact tracing. Three of the cases in Mombasa are linked to an 84-year-old herbalist who died of the virus.
The model by the Ministry of Health stated that by April 30, which is 10 days away, the number of cases will be 10,000. The ministry also, as announced by the Health CS, estimates that 28,000 people could die if the virus is not tamed. Amref Health Africa Group CEO Githinji Gitahi said while the numbers are not quite as expected, models are out only to guide and the best case scenario is that they should turn out wrong.