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Kenya has overcome a major bottleneck in mass testing for coronavirus, thanks to an innovation by the Kenya Medical Research Institute (Kemri).

In a twist of irony, response to diseases that brought Kenya to its knees in the last decade — Aids, tuberculosis and a brush with the deadly avian flu in 2009 — is what has enabled this breakthrough.

From the current 600 tests per day, the innovation at Kemri will see Kenya process and get results for at least 35,000 samples in 24 hours.

Kenya will now use the Cobas 6800 or the 8800 HIV viral load machines and the GeneXpert used for point of care testing for tuberculosis. Prof Matilu Mwau, Kemri Busia director, said that the Cobas machine is able to run as many as 5,000 tests in a day.

“In the unlikely event that we get to that point, we will be ready,” he said

Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe in his daily updates Tuesday said the ministry will be processing the results faster than usual and will prioritise healthcare workers and people in quarantine.

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