Government has launched the use of GeneXpert machines at border points which will enable truck drivers to be tested and receive their Covid-19 results before they proceed.
Information from the Ministry of Health indicates that testing has been piloted this week at Mutukula and Malaba border points to address the increasing transmission of the disease by cargo truck drivers.
Dr Julius Lutwama, the deputy executive director of Uganda Virus Research Institute (UVRI), yesterday said with the GeneXpert machines, one is able to get their results within 45 minutes but added that he was not sure of the turnaround time that would be decided.
Dr Lutwama said once a truck driver tests negative, they won’t need to wait for results from UVRI though they must follow precautionary measures put in place by government.
“It does not mean because you have tested negative, you are okay and you can move around. They will continue taking the same precautions like they have been taking. They have to stop only in designated points put in place by government,” he said.
The GeneXpert machines has been used for TB testing. However, due to lack of cartridges, they had not been used for testing Covid-19.
The machines at UVRI take one to two hours with extraction taking longer. But the GeneXpert machines do not require this.
At Malaba entry border point, health authorities have said the Ministry of Health is on the final process of installing GeneXpert testing machines.
Dr David Okumu, the Tororo District health officer, said the district has taken an initiative of training health staff, especially laboratory technicians on how to use the equipment.
He said the mobile laboratory would eliminate delays in getting results of tested Covid-19 suspects.
‘‘We are optimistic that once the equipment is piloted, the chances of positive cases getting into contact with the community will be minimal,’’ he said.