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Govt okays Alibaba test kits, warns of possible COVID-19 surge

An official from the Ministry of Health and Wellness, Dr Lebapotswe Tlale has said that they have started using the test kits donated by Chinese billionaire Jack Ma.  He added that they are best for their testing model, warning of a possible surge of positive cases of the novel coronavirus.

Jack Ma Foundation and Alibaba Foundation donated to each one of the 54 African nations 20,000 testing kits, 100,000 masks and 1,000 medical use protective suits and face shields last month. There were recent international media reports about the test kits being ‘defective’.

Responding to media enquiries on Friday, Tlale said: “We are using these [Jack Ma] test kits. The test kits being returned by countries are the Rapid test kits, which are not approved by the WHO. In Botswana we use what is called ‘Molecular tests’, which are different from the rapid test kits”.

“Our laboratory personnel has said that the test kits from Jack Ma are very very excellent,” Dr Tlale said.

Tlale further said their testing model has been causing uncomfortable delays in getting test results due to a number of challenges. Botswana only recently started doing tests in Gaborone and has been sending some to South Africa for quality assurance.

The delay

in testing has caused a backlog of tests and Tlale admitted that Botswana could soon have a possible surge in the number of corona cases as they now started to speed up the testing process.

As of Friday Botswana had performed 670 tests, which produced 562 negative results and four positive cases with one death. There are 2001 people isolated in government quarantine and 291 in home quarantine.

On Thursday the minister of Health and Wellness Dr Lemogang Kwape said they are still withholding results of 100 specimens.

As most quarantined patients reach Day 10 and are due for tests, health officials say there could be substantial increase in the number of cases. Tlale said they have increased their testing capacity by increasing working hours and hiring more specialists to push the backlog of tests.

Botswana is currently on a 28-day lockdown that started on Friday to contain the spread of the coronavirus.




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