MINISTER of Health and Child Care (MoHCC) Dr Obadiah Moyo says Zimbabwe Coronavirus (COVID-19) results take longer to release owing to the testing method the country is using.
By Michael Gwarisa
Dr Moyo told a post cabinet media briefing that Zimbabwe was still using the Polymerised Chain Reaction (PCR) testing scheme which takes longer than the Rapid Testing method which takes less than 15 minutes to produce results.
“The reason why our results take longer to come out is to do with the testing scheme. We have to batch the samples which will be coming from all over the country. The testing system itself takes a long time before you get the results.
“The testing system that we have available at the moment is not the rapid testing system. We have the Polymerised Chain Reaction (PCR) system which takes five hours and part of that testing system requires that after the samples have been taken from the patient, you have to extract it and then do what are called Oral or Nasal- phyryngial Swabbing and then you take those samples and then you extract the virus and then you have to amplify the Deoxirebonucleic Acid (DNA) or Ribonucleic Acid (RNA) of the virus,” said Dr Moyo.
There has been growing concern and scepticism amongst citizens regarding the manner in which the results are being released with some suggesting that government could be hiding the actual number of infections the country has recorded to date.
However, the health minister dismissed any conspiracy theories and assured that the country will be adopting a more efficient and fast means of testing for the COVID-19 virus.
“Obviously in future, we want the time to be reduced and we can only reduce that time by utilising the rapid tests. The rapid tests only take 15 minutes and in some cases eight minutes, they are some other new testing systems which take less than 15 minutes.
“However, the problem with rapid tests is that if the result comes out positive, you still have to go back and do the five hour test. When a rapid test is done, a blood sample is taken for the tests but to verify and be sure of the result, we would still need to do the PCR where we extract the nasal and oral swabs.”
Meanwhile, Zimbabwe currently has a total of eight confirmed COVID-19 cases from more than 200 tests that have been done to date. Globally, the virus has killed more than 30 000 people and infected hundreds of thousands others.
“So far, cumulative number of tests that we have done to date is 241 and the negative test results out of that were 233, leaving eight positive tests results. The first case is in Victoria Falls, the person contracted the virus after traveling out of Zimbabwe, so it is an imported case from the United Kingdom.
“The case’s clinic condition is mild and they are stable. We have been advised that they are in good condition. The second case was imported from the United State and unfortunately, we lost that one,” said Dr Moyo.
The third case is from Ruwa who had travelled to Dubai, the fourth case is a 24 year old female who had travelled to the United States. The fifth case is a 30 year old male who was in contact with candidate number two. The sixth, seventh and eighth cases are all contacts of the third Dubai case