The Programme in Kilifi has been providing SARS-CoV-2 testing services since March 17, 2020 for Coastal (Lamu, Kilifi, Kwale, Mombasa, Taita-Taveta and Tana River) Counties, Kenya. The laboratory has conducted over 70,000 RT-PCR tests for suspected patient samples. This work is being done in collaboration with the County health teams. The County Rapid Response teams collect the samples from suspected cases and deliver them to the KWTRP lab for testing.
The KWTRP lab has worked with four different SARS-CoV-2 test kits and has optimized this kits for use to ensure the reliability of the results and increased capacity to test and support the Coastal health teams. Depending on which kit is available in the lab, the tests will be conducted targeting two genes or a single gene of the virus. We have deployed quality management system processes throughout our testing work flow and procedures, to ensure quality control at every step. For instance, in the event of a failed test, we run a second confirmatory test.
The inconsistent global supply of test kits, during the pandemic poses a challenge to the testing effort. To ensure continuous reliability of the testing services to the counties and using the existing experience in RT-PCR assays, the KWTRP researchers developed a series of adjustments to the assays to optimize their use in testing for COVID-19. This becomes exceedingly important with the growing numbers of cases in the country and with the increased volumes of testing. This allowed for evidence based confirmation of the validity of the various kits available for testing and allowed the team to optimise the current limited resources.
The team has also built capacity of the laboratory teams in the various counties on how best to carry out sample collection and safely transport samples to the lab, testing and data management.