Gulu University Laboratory has tested over 600 samples of
Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) since being accredited by the Ministry of Health
and Uganda Virus Research Institute – UVRI in January.
The samples were tested from February 22 to March 18 and drawn
from neighbouring districts of Kitgum, Agago, Gulu, Pader, Lamwo, Omoro, Nwoya
and Amuru in the Acholi sub-region.
The 4.5 million dollars’ complex laboratory under the Faculty of Medicine was
constructed with a subsidy from the African Development Bank and commissioned
by President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni in January 2020. It can run 1,000 test
samples in 24 hours.
Dr Richard Echodu the Laboratory Director reveals that at least five of every
100 COVID-19 samples that are submitted to them through Gulu Regional Referral
Hospital for analysis have been turning positive.
James Onono Ojok, the Assistant Public Relations Officer of the University,
says that the Lab is being manned by 16 staff, three of whom are PhD holders in
medical laboratory technology.
The new facility is among
other 15 accredited labs in the country by the government to undertake COVID-19
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Onono added that the University has also been granted GBP 500,000 an equivalent
of about 2.5 billion shillings from the United Kingdom Research Council which
they have used to procure 25,000 test kits to benefit the refugee community in
Lamwo and Adjumani Districts.
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While community samples from the community are tested at no cost, corporate
entities can also now conduct regular COVID-19 screening for their staff at a
fee determined by the government between the ranges of 150,000 – 180,000
The development brings a sigh of relief for the timely management
of COVID-19 cases in the region and saves the time lost in referring the sample
tests to either Adjumani Government Hospital or Uganda Virus Research Institute
in Entebbe, a distance of 150Km and 350Km apart respectively.
According to the Ministry of Health, other laboratories accredited to carry out
COVID-19 testing in Uganda are Central Public Health Lab (CPHL), Infectious
Disease Institute (IDI) Lab, Makerere University, Mild May Laboratory, Tororo
Mobile Lab, Mutukula Mobile Lab, Joint Clinical Research Center, Lancet
Laboratories, MBN Lab, Medipal International Hospital, Test and Fly Laboratory,
Uganda Cancer Institute, Fred Hutchison Laboratory and IOM Laboratory.
Statistics from the Health Ministry indicate that overall, Uganda has recorded
a total of 40,671 cases out of which 15,133 have recovered and 334 deaths from a
period spanning March 2020 to date.