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24 African countries can now test for coronavirus – WHO

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Twenty-four African countries can now test for potential Coronavirus disease (COVID-19), the World Health Organization (WHO) said yesterday.

WHO in a statement said as at two weeks ago, only two referral laboratories – one in South Africa and another in Senegal – were capable of doing so.

The increase in testing capacity across the African continent represents a significant milestone in COVID-19 preparedness efforts, it said.

WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, said it was crucial that countries in Africa were self-sufficient with respect to testing for COVID-19, given the huge challenges that many face in shipping samples across Africa or in some cases beyond the continent.

“But high global demand for reliable and accurate testing kits has strained supply chains and resulted in production and delivery bottlenecks. However, these are being overcome,” she said.

The statement said at the beginning of the outbreak, the vast majority of national laboratories in Africa lacked the reagents necessary for testing.

The Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, recently said Nigeria had capacity to detect and respond to the coronavirus in case it was imported into the country.

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