Guyana Lab testing capabilities boosted

−Can test tissue samples for Coronavirus, Zika, Chikungunya, Dengue and Yellow Fever

DPI, Guyana, Friday, February 21, 2020

Virologist and Pan American Health Organisation’s International Consultant, Dr. Lionel Gresh is in the country to train staff of the National Public Health Reference Laboratory (NPHRL) to test for 2019-nCoV (novel coronavirus) and other viral diseases.

Dr. Gresh has been working with staff since Monday, December 17. The virologist is on his fifth trip to Guyana has committed to further supporting the public health ministry to ensure that everything necessary is provided to have these tests done.

“This is possible because we have been working with the Ministry of Public Health for the past three and a half years in really strengthening the molecular biology platform that is now available at the NPHRL which is really like a state-of-the-art platform,” He told DPI.

Minister of Public Health, Volda Lawrence and PAHO/WHO Country Representative, Dr. William Adu-Krow met with the virologist on Thursday where he provided an update to the Minister and she also met with the staff undergoing training.

Minister Lawrence noted that Dr. Gresh’s contribution has strengthened Guyana’s capacity to test for viral diseases such as the Coronavirus, allowing the ministry to effectively test for viruses and disease and map out treatment strategies.

“PAHO’s initiative of helping us strengthen our laboratory facilities to be able to test for the nCoV right here in Guyana is very timely and very considerate of them and also I think it brings a great reassurance to the people of Guyana that we can be able to have timely results from any test that we would seek to carry out on any person coming from a high-risk country,” the minister stated.

Minister Lawrence emphasised that since word of the deadly effects of the coronavirus were revealed in January, Guyana has been prepared, monitoring borders and persons travelling from a country with reported cases.

“We have not closed our borders to persons travelling from the epicentre because we believe that both WHO internationally and PAHO in the region of the Americas have embodied the position of helping countries, put measures in place for the testing of Coronavirus as persons travel from one country to the other.”

Meanwhile, PAHO/WHO Representative country representative Dr. William Adu-Krow emphasised that the fact that Guyana moved one step ahead augers well for the country’s capability to test for other virus and diseases.

“Ongoing work started around 2016 with us inviting Dr. Gresh to join us to help train and to even look at PCR machines that were not being used and we have been able to build on that up to today. It is not only coronavirus but we have the capability now to also to test for Chikungunya, Zika, and dengue.”

Describing the reference lab as the public health facility with tremendous potential, the PAHO/WHO rep added: “we were able to do testing of blood but now we can do testing of tissue samples and I learnt when they did proficiency testing our lab scored 100%.”

The machine used to conduct these tests is the Applied Biosystems 7500 known as the AB 7500. This is a powerful platform for labs requiring superior performance and maximum dye versatility. It is a Real-Time PCR System and is the third generation of thermocycling technology that allows quantitation of product generation in “real-time”.


Note: In molecular biology, quantitation of nucleic acids is commonly performed to determine the average concentration of DNA or RNA present in a mixture, as well as their purity.