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Testing times, CDC Namibia volunteers to help labs sort out COVID-19 samples

Testing times, CDC Namibia volunteers to help labs sort out COVID-19 samples

Due to the recent surge in COVID-19 cases in Namibia, staff from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Namibia are assisting to sort the samples received from testing sites across the country.

According to a statement released this week, the CDC is assisting the Namibia Institute of Pathology Limited (NIP) laboratory team at the Windhoek Central Reference Laboratory (WCRL) voluntarily.

Tuku Ndavaetela, one of the CDC Namibia volunteers said she is in awe of the laboratory staff who have been working in the COVID-19 laboratory for the last 18 months.

Laboratory Team Lead for CDC Namibia, Dr. Suzanne Beard said in the laboratory they are seeing an increase in samples and an increase in the proportion of positive results and we are also seeing an increase in the number of urgent requests for patients who are hospitalized.

“We can see just how serous the situation is and we know what need to be done, but we do not know if the public will take the steps needed to stop the virus from spreading,” she added.

She further stated that the laboratory technicians are delivering the results day after day and the healthcare providers are caring for the sick, day after day, therefore they need the public to stop the spread of the virus, day after day too.

“We all have to do our part to end this pandemic, we need to wash our hands, wear a mask, avoid gatherings and get vaccinated,” she emphasized.

Jessica Long, who leads the U.S. Embassy as Chargé d’Affaires said they are able to understand how quickly the virus is spreading and the country can adjust its public health regulations accordingly.

“The laboratory technicians across the country are playing a behind the scenes role in helping us to reach better times, and Namibia cannot fight this pandemic without them,” she added.

Statistics show that every week, Namibia is testing over 20,000 COVID-19 samples, at the start of July around 40% of the samples tested each day were positive. The NIP lab is open 12-16 hours a day, seven days a week and the pressure on the permanent staff has been immense.

Samples come to the Windhoek NIP lab from clinics and hospitals across the country and when they arrive, the first step is to unpack the boxes. Inside are samples, accompanied by the case information form, the forms are checked for any that are urgent and organized into alphabetical order to speed up the process of re-matching the forms to the samples.

NIP receives between 1000 and 3000 samples each day, even if it takes just one minuet to sort each sample, this still means it will take 16 and half hours to sort just 1000 of all the samples received if this job was being performed by a single person.

CDC Namibia staff member, Silvia Wabomba, sorting samples at NIP.


About The Author

Mandisa Rasmeni

Mandisa Rasmeni has worked as reporter at the Economist for the past five years, first on the entertainment beat but now focussing more on community, social and health reporting. She is a born writer and she believes education is the greatest equalizer. She received her degree in Journalism at the Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST) in June 2021. . She is the epitome of perseverance, having started as the newspaper's receptionist in 2013.