Liberia: Lack of Adequate Testing Equipment Creating Constraints for Issuance of Covid-19 Travel Certificate in Time

Monrovia — The Acting Director of the National Public Health Institute on Liberia, Dr. Patrick Kpanyen has blamed the lack of adequate testing material for delay in processing COVID-19 certificates for up to three days.

Speaking in a FrontPageAfrica live interview Wednesday, Dr. Kpanyen said there are limited laboratory materials to bring out testing results faster as expected by travelers.

"We have a lot of constraints. We don't have the luxury of Lab Materials like other countries," Dr. Kpanyen said.

Dr. Kpanyen averred that this is because the Automatic Voice Response (AVR) Machine that was used during the Ebola Crisis is down and the COVID-19 health team is now using only two Roche machines, one of which is a Polymerase Chain Response (PCR) Machine for the test.

AVR Machine is used to facilitate the management of chronic health conditions while the PCR Testing is used to amplify small segments of DNA. The Roche Machine saves time and is economical.

Dr. Kpanyen further explained that the PCR Testing which Liberia is carrying out, is more standard and there are no fees attached. "The AVR Machine runs 92 samples for over four to six hours and the Rush Machine also takes 92 samples and the processing time last for up to 4-6 hour.

Furthermore, Dr. Kpanyen explained that out of four GeneExpert Machine at the Laboratory, only one is functional. Accordingly, the GeneExpert Machine takes four samples at a time while its processing last up to an hour.

Dr. Kpanyen is therefore appealing to travelers to understand that Liberia is not carrying out a "Rapid Diagnostic Test," as done in other areas, but a real PCR and must therefore exercise patience until the 72 hours timeline given them for receiving their certificates.

Dr. Kpanyen frowned on the practice of some travelers who are putting NPHIL under duress to release their certificates before the stipulated timeline. "I like to clarify that our lab turnaround time is 24-72 hours, which provides us the space to collect specimens and issuance of travel certificates within 72 hours," Dr. Kpanyen averred. "It's a probability that you could do your test today and get result tomorrow or after the 72 hours, but that's not binding on us."

According to the Acting NPHIL Boss, most of the travelers who are scheduled for certificates do not observe the timeline, which he believes is posing a serious problem on the country's public health body.

Dr. Kpanyen instead, wants travelers to stick to their specific schedules, other than forcing NPHIL to release their certificates before time.

Dr. Kpanyen is encouraging those going for tests to report anyone who will tell them to go for a certificate before the 72 hours timeline so that such person can be investigated for further action.

He admonished travelers to do their test before booking their air flight tickets to avoid losses.

At the same time, Dr. Kpanyen maintained that some travelers who have complained of not receiving their certificates after the 72 hours timeline, might have refused to pick them up at the scheduled date. He however acknowledged the lack of security system being put in place to guide the testing process to avoid people doing tests for others.

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