With funding from the European Union (EU), the World Health Organization (WHO) in collaboration with the South Sudan Ministry of Health has trained over 50 laboratory experts on principles of COVID-19 infection prevention and control (IPC) measures in the laboratory.
The training aimed at enhancing infection prevention, control practices in laboratories, and reducing the risk of COVID-19 infection and other infectious diseases. Imparting competencies on universal precautions and safe handling, segregation, disinfection and disposal of infectious and hazardous laboratory waste as well as current WHO IPC guidelines for managing COVID-19 samples were key areas of the training.
“COVID-19 is a new disease and there are newly emerging facts. Therefore, laboratories should adhere to the guidance provided by WHO and CDC,” said Mr Abe Gordon Abias, Laboratory Scientist at the National Public Health Laboratory, Ministry of Health.
Since the confirmation of COVID-19 outbreak in April, laboratory personnel have been engaged to support the additional testing needs in the National Public Health Laboratory.
Dr Olushayo Olu, WHO Representative for South Sudan said COVID-19 samples collected for laboratory investigation are potentially infectious. “Hence, enhancing the knowledge of health workers who collect, or transport and test COVID-19 samples will minimize the possibility of exposure,” Dr Olu said.
According to the EU Ambassador to South Sudan Dr Sinead Walsh, quality testing is crucial to ascertain the magnitude of the spread of the virus in order to enforce appropriate IPC measures.
“We stand with the people of South Sudan in this difficult time of COVID-19. The EU and its member states have mobilised €49.1 million for South Sudan’s COVID-19 response,” Dr Walsh said.
Since the beginning of the outbreak, at least 118 health workers have contracted the virus and this training should reduce such infections. South Sudan as of 04 August has confirmed 2437 coronavirus cases, 1217 recoveries and at least 47 fatalities.