Akwa Ibom commences COVID-19 testing in new PCR laboratory

Akwa Ibom commences COVID-19 testing in new PCR laboratory

- The newly certified laboratory in Akwa Ibom state as commenced testing of COVID-19 cases

- The laboratory is a category 3 Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) certified by the NCDC

- PCR has now become the method of choice in early and accurate diagnosis of most infectious diseases

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The newly certified Akwa Ibom state category 3 Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) inbuilt laboratory at the infectious disease unit/Isolation centre of the General hospital Ituk Mbang has commenced testing of COVID-19 cases.

The PCR lab approved by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) on Friday, June 12, received its first batch of 22 COVID-19 samples.

The samples were received by a team of laboratory personnel led by Professor Tatfeng Mirabeau, a consultant molecular biologist, department of medical laboratory science, Niger Delta University, Bayelsa state.

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Akwa Ibom commences COVID-19 testing in new PCR laboratory
File photo of Governor Emmanuel inspecting the lab before its approval
Source: UGC

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Samples from suspected cases from Akwa Ibom were hitherto taken to Irrua Specialist Hospital in Edo state for testing and this procedure took not less than 48 hours before the results were released.

The lead consultant of the PCR, Professor Mirabeau said, “the establishment of the laboratory in the state has guaranteed testing of suspected COVID-19 samples and fast release of results.

“I commend the Akwa Ibom state government led by Governor Udom Emmanuel, for putting up one of the best of such laboratories in the country without any external assistance.”

He said that whereas other PRC labs in the country test only COVID-19, the laboratory in Akwa Ibom would avail patients several other laboratory services while on admission.

According to Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, regional director, World Health Organisation, Southeast Asia region, PCR has now become the method of choice in early and accurate diagnosis of most infectious diseases and has become an indispensable research tool.

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Her words: “PCR has significantly helped in the early commencement of specific interventions for disease control, and also plays a critical role in understanding disease epidemiology, thereby unravelling the transmission dynamics of the disease.

“The results of PCR are reproducible and comparable between different laboratories and hence are globally accepted. Affordability has further increased its acceptance and utility in developing countries also.”

She further said the utility of the technology was demonstrated during the influenza pandemic and outbreaks of emerging viral infections such as SARS, Ebola, MERS CoV, ZIKA and many other communicable diseases.

“Apart from the rapid diagnosis of infectious diseases, PCR can be used in a variety of applications in forensic and medical areas.

“Likewise, it can be widely used in a variety of research purposes in the field of molecular genetics,” she added.

Recall that the NCDC recently gave a pass mark to the newly opened molecular diagnostic laboratory constructed by the Akwa Ibom state government.

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The laboratory was given the approval to run coronavirus tests by the NCDC on Monday, June 8.

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