By Ernest Chinwo
In its determination to stem the spread of the coronavirus pandemic in the state, the Rivers State Government Friday evening inaugurated three PCR machines at its Covid-19 testing centre at the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital, Port Harcourt.
The Chief Medical Director (CMD) of the Teaching Hospital, Dr. Friday Aaron, said Shell Petroleum Development Company donated two of the PCR machines to the state government while the third came from Total E and P.
He said: “This evening we are here to celebrate, because it has been our goal to get a testing centre in Rivers State. Today, I am happy to announce that we can now do Covid-19 tests at the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital courtesy of the Rivers State Government ably led by our own Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike.
“We also thank our partners, SPDC and Total, who have continued to work with us to fight coronavirus. The NCDC were here to install and activate the PCR machines.
“Since yesterday, we started running tests and by this evening, we will have results come from our lab. The good thing is that we have three PCR machines that will serve Rivers people.”
He thanked Wike for working hard to get a world class lab that would ensure more people are tested and treated.
According to him, “We also have edged over other states because we received a donation of over 3,000 test kits and we have kits that came with the machines.
“In this hospital, we have a state-of-the-art molecular laboratory before now. That lab we use is for HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis B and C. The NCDC said for Covid-19 testing, we should get another laboratory. We have been able to meet up that request.
“I congratulate our governor and Rivers people for this achievement. It is undergoing safety checks and we then get the approval of the NCDC to start collecting samples.”
The CMD however said that people are not expected to come to the laboratory because samples would be collected from the state Treatment Centre at Eleme and the state Ministry of Health.
The Biomedical Engineer, NCDC National Reference Laboratory, Okoli Innocent, said that they were in the state to install and activate the laboratory.
“We are very happy with the progress the state has made in setting up of this lab. We are confident that this lab can handle the challenge of testing for Covid-19. We have three PCR machines that can test 270 samples a day,” he said.
The Regional Community Health Manager, SPDC-JV, Dr. Akinwumi Fajola, expressed happiness at the setting up of the coronavirus test lab in the state.
He said: “We are very excited about what is happening here especially for the people of Rivers State. We are partnering with the Rivers State Government and we have been able to donate two PCR machines which are now at work at the RSUTH.
“We have also provided test kits; we have provided RNA extraction test kits and all those things that will help the molecular biology testing in this laboratory.
“We are excited about what the Rivers State Government has done here; very good facility. I am happy about the infection prevention and control at this facility.”