The Ghana Health Service has adopted a new approach to deal with the accumulation of backlog samples that need to be tested for COVID-19 in all its testing facilities across the country. The consideration, very compelling, only prioritizes testing on samples which are two weeks old or less.
Director General for the Ghana Health Service, Dr. Patrick Kuma-Aboagye in a press briefing today, explained that the rationale is to ease the pressures at the various testing facilities, as they conduct their enhanced surveillance on other cases.
“We are not going to focus our attention on samples that may not bring us any relevance and so those who are, for special cases… we are going back but we will continue working on the recent ones as we deal with the response of COVID but those ones that we feel that are relevant. For example, someone had a suspicious death and that they have taken the sample, we will want to go and see, was it COVID or not so that we know how to handle them,… handle the body among other things.
“And so that’s the way we are going. I will not be able to give you exacts but we’ve been working on it but it’s not going to be top priority of the cases, so as we get new cases and we focus on, in time we will be going back to look at those things but I don’t think that we are going to focus on the backlog especially those that are more than two weeks old.” he elaborated.
Disregard reports of ‘contaminated’ COVID-19 sample- GHS
The Ghana Health Service have debunked claims that samples being stored at the Effia Nkwanta Reference Laboratory have gotten contaminated. Dr. Patrick Kuma-Aboagye says the facility has the capacity to preserve samples taken of COVID-19 infected persons and or contacts or suspected cases for later testing.
He clarified that samples taken so far and being preserved at the facility are in better condition and could last for over a year.
“Samples can be kept for years under special freezing conditions. We even have samples of small pods. But if a sample is not taken properly, instead of spitting it becomes saliva. That will not be used. If there is a spill and it’s not handled properly and contaminated by another sample, it may not be used. We have other samples that cannot be only kept for case purposes but research purposes so I don’t think anyone said that 3000 samples in Takoradi have gone bad.
“The storage capacity varies and are kept in cold boxes and freezers. I’ll not be able to tell you exactly what it is but what I can say is at, as at two days before, when Prof came here he said they had a bag of 20,000 samples there so that tells you that the capacity is bigger. We don’t know the exact capacity but we know that they have the capacity to store the samples that we’re given so nothing is going to get spoilt if there is no space to store the samples” Dr. Kuma-Aboagye emphasized.