Additional consumables and validation information are necessary before the donated test kits can be used locally.
Namibia may only start using the 20 000 coronavirus testing kits donated by Chinese billionaire Jack Ma by the end of April.
The government is also still waiting for validation information for the additional 1 000 test kits donated by the Chinese embassy.
This was confirmed by the chief executive officer of the Namibia Institute of Pathology (NIP), Dr David Uirab, who said they were sourcing some additional consumables for these kits in the meantime.
Uirab compared the availability of these consumables to “putting candy on a table and calling kids to come and grab some”.
“The donation by Jack Ma, I must say, is a great donation. It will make a huge difference, but the problem is that we need other consumables for the tests to be used. We are sourcing the other consumables but we are only looking at the end of April,” he said.
According to Uirab both the additional consumables and the validation information are essential before the test kits can be used locally.
“This is neither the beginning nor the end. There are lots of rapid tests in the world, but we must be able to compare these tests to the PCR, which is the gold-standard testing protocol, to see if they produce reliable results. We have now also requested the production company from China to send some additional information before we can finalise the validation process,” he said.
According to the health minister, Dr Kalumbi Shangula, the ministry will in the coming weeks expand coronavirus testing, especially for those people with respiratory ailments.
“We will undertake active case detection by expanding the scope of work of community health workers. We do this in order to determine the extent of community transmission in Namibia.
“Our focus will be on the three regions with confirmed coronavirus cases, namely Khomas, Erongo and //Karas,” he said.
Globally experts believe that comprehensive testing is crucial to control the coronavirus pandemic.
President Hage Geingob has repeatedly said he believes more widespread testing will show that many more Namibians are infected.
According to Geingob, Namibia may be sitting on a timebomb because the country does not have the proper means to test all suspected cases.
“We only have about 13 cases because we do not have the means to test properly. So, once we test, we may have a serious crisis.
“Let us cooperate and listen to suggestions and orders given to people assigned to be the spokespersons,” he said.
Namibia now has 13 confirmed coronavirus cases, the latest being the husband and baby of a 36-year-old South African woman who had tested positive over the weekend.
Shangula added that the third reported case in the country, a German tourist, has since recovered. The man has had two consecutive negative tests and will soon return to his country.
“The team responsible for contact tracing is actively following up with all contacts of all positive and suspected cases to ensure proper quarantine and monitoring for symptoms,” Shangula said.