Rwanda to Offer Covid-19 Tests at All Public Hospitals

Testing for coronavirus (file photo).

Looking at the recent daily reports by RBC medics, the country's high number of tests done in a single day are often between 5,000 and 6,500

Rwanda's testing capacity for Covid-19 is set to double following the establishment of new testing centres countrywide.

According to Dr Daniel Ngamije, the Minister for Health, Rwanda will soon test Covid-19 in all government hospitals.

Currently, according to Ngamije, Rwanda tests Covid-19 in 11 centres including Ruhengeri, Gihundwe, Rubavu, Nyagatare, Kirehe, Rwamagana, Kacyiru and Kibagabaga hospitals.

This is in addition to the National Referral Laboratory, the University Teaching Hospital of Butare (CHUB) and the Rwanda Military Hospital.

In all these centres, Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) is used, a technology that tests for Covid-19 by detecting the virus's genetic material in a sample collected from a patient.

This is opposed to antigen tests that detect specific proteins on the surface of the virus; or antibody tests that test for Covid-19 by looking for antibodies that are made by the body's immune system in response to this specific virus.

A medical staff conducts Covid-19 random tests at Nyabugogo market last week. Photo: Dan Nsengiyumva.

PCR testing is regarded as the 'gold standard' for the detection of some viruses and is characterised by high sensitivity and specificity.

In addition to PCR tests, Rwanda, last week launched the use of validated antigen rapid tests, which, according to Dr Sabin Nsanzimana, the Director General of the Rwanda Biomedical Centre (RBC), will be used to carry out quick tests in areas with high prevalence of the virus.

These antigen tests will not necessarily be conclusive, since some of the tested people will have to wait and have a PCR test too.

"The antigen rapid tests will be used in situations where there is need for results within 30 while waiting further exams," said Nsanzimana in an interview with The New Times.

"It takes 20 to 30 minutes (for antigen tests) to give results with an 82 per cent sensitivity. It works better where high prevalence of the disease is suspected," he added.

Nsanzimana told The New Times that with the new developments including the new PCR testing centres and the use of antigen tests, Rwanda's current testing capacity might double or more.

Looking at the recent daily reports by RBC medics, the country's high number of tests done in a single day are often between 5,000 and 6,500.

Only once has RBC reported results obtained from tests reaching up to 7,000.

Meanwhile, Ngamije said that the use of antigen-based rapid tests has started in Kigali community surveys.

According to statistics, currently, Kigali is the new hotspot of infections during the recent upsurge that the country has experienced.

Since August 14 to August 23, the Rwanda Biomedical Centre reported a staggering 889, and of these, 695 have been registered in Kigali.

Random Covid-19 testing returned to the streets of Kigali since last week, as the Ministry of Health looks to generate latest data concerning the prevalence of the virus in the city.

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