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Gulu University Laboratory Runs Out of COVID-19 Test Kits

James Onono Ojok, the University’s Assistant Public Relations Officer disclosed to URN that following closure of education institutions by President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni on May 7, public demand especially from the returning students overstretched the facility and exhausted the available resources.
17 Jun 2021 07:30

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Gulu University Laboratory is facing a stock out of kits amid growing public demand for COVID-19 testing.

The 4.5 million dollars laboratory is among the 15 other labs accredited by the Ministry of Health and Uganda Virus Research Institute – UVRI. The laboratory draws test samples from Kitgum, Agago, Gulu, Pader, Lamwo, Omoro, Nwoya and Amuru districts in the Acholi sub-region.

Dr Richard Echodu the Laboratory Director reveals that the laboratory can run 1,000 test samples in 24 hours.

The University was granted 2.5 Billion Shillings from the United Kingdom Research Council which was used for the procurement of 25,000 test kits to benefit the refugee community in Lamwo and Adjumani Districts.

But James Onono Ojok, the University’s Assistant Public Relations Officer disclosed to URN that following the closure of education institutions by President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni demand for testing especially from the returning students overstretched the facility and exhausted the available resources.

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The Regional COVID-19 Focal Person Janani Loum reiterated that there was a sharp demand from parents to have thousands of students who returned home to be tested.

On Monday this week, up to 561 students turned up to be tested at the University out of which 100 of them turned positive. With other members of the public turning up for the same in big numbers, it overwhelmed the available capacity.

However, Stephen Odong Latek, the Resident District Commissioner who doubles as the Task Force Chairperson said they have notified the Ministry of Health and National COVID-19 Task Force to reinforce their efforts with new stock supplies to help combat the pandemic.

The multi-complex laboratory was constructed with a subsidy from the African Development Bank and commissioned by President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni in January 2020.  It is being operated by 16 staff, three of whom are PhD holders in medical laboratory technology.

The Gulu Task Force has tested over 1,000 samples since the lockdown and over 150 samples turned positive, many of whom are being treated from home through home-based care.

Up to 11 patients have died from Gulu Regional Referral Hospital Treatment Unit following the resurgence of cases from the new wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.

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