The Namibia Institute of Pathology (NIP) said it will now be able to test up to 700 Covid-19 samples a day after beefing up its capacity.
Acting CEO Dr David Uirab said the institution has recruited additional technical staff, while a double shift system has been introduced to increase the daily testing capacity.
Uirab also said it will at least take a minimum of one week to clear the testing backlog. he backlog was caused by the mass testing campaign in the Erongo region after a surge in Covid-19 cases were reported, particularly in Walvis Bay.
“Once the mass testing project of Walvis Bay is over, we can now put the quarantine people number one on the list and clear them first before we clear the other backlog. It will take us at least a week to clear the backlog,” said Uirab.
Currently, NIP tests about 360 samples per day, whereas PathCare tests between 48 and 100 samples per day.
The backlog in releasing the Covid-19 results led to people being kept longer in quarantine facilities – more than the mandatory 14 days – due to pending results.
A Namibian medical student, pursuing studies in Zambia, broke out in tears as she narrated her frustration of spending 18 days at the Zambezi Waterfront and Tourism Park in Katima Mulilo last week because her second results were not ready.
The student, Martha Nangombe, who is on holiday, said her first test came out negative. She has since been released from quarantine.
By yesterday, a total of 485 people tested positive and 876 people were in quarantine facilities countrywide.
Responding to a question by Popular for Democratic Movement leader McHenry Venaani last week in the National Assembly, health minister Dr Kalumbi Shangula said alternative testing measures have been put in place to ramp up testing for Covid-19. Shangula said this week would see progress in the turnaround time because of measures put in place to reduce the backlog. Shangula said they have mobilised all the laboratories that can conduct Covid-19 tests.