Correlating WHO COVID-19 interim guideline 2020.5 and testing capacity, accuracy, and logistical challenges in Africa

SOURCE: PanAfrican Medical Journal
OUTPUT TYPE: Journal Article
TITLE AUTHOR(S): L.Mosi, A.A.Sylverken, K.Oyebola, K.Badu, N.Dukhi, N.Goonoo, P.K.Mante, J.Zahouli, E.F.Amankwaa, M.F.Tolba, A.F.Fagbamigbe, D.K.De Souza, D.Matoke-Muhia
DEPARTMENT: Public Health, Societies and Belonging (HSC)
Print: HSRC Library: shelf number 12096
HANDLE: 20.500.11910/16379

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Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), a severe acute respiratory syndrome caused by SARS-CoV-2 was declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO) in March 2020. As of 21st April 2021, the disease had affected more than 143 million people with more than 3 million deaths worldwide. Urgent effective strategies are required to control the scourge of the pandemic. Rapid sample collection and effective testing of appropriate specimens from patients meeting the suspect case definition for COVID-19 is a priority for clinical management and outbreak control. The WHO recommends that suspected cases be screened for SARS-CoV-2 virus with nucleic acid amplification tests such as real-time Reverse Transcription-Polymerase Chain Reaction (rRTPCR). Other COVID-19 screening techniques such as serological and antigen tests have been developed and are currently being used for testing at ports of entry and for general surveillance of population exposure in some countries. However, there are limited testing options, equipment, and trained personnel in many African countries. Previously, positive patients have been screened more than twice to determine viral clearance prior to discharge after treatment. In a new policy directive, the WHO now recommends direct discharge after treatment of all positive cases without repeated testing. In this review, we discuss COVID-19 testing capacity, various diagnostic methods, test accuracy, as well as logistical challenges in Africa with respect to the WHO early discharge policy.