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UKZN secures a rapid tester for COVID-19

The College of Health Sciences (CHS) at UKZN has secured an advanced instrument called the ILEX Genehecker (ultra-fast pcr), valued at $10 000, to conduct rapid testing for COVID-19. The instrument was donated by the Gift of the Givers following a request made by UKZN researchers, Professor Anil Chuturgoon, Dr Veron Ramsuran and Dr Lorna Madurai. The latter is a collaborator in the COVID-19 testing platform.

This instrument was handed over to UKZN on Thursday, 25 June and was placed at UKZN's Microbiology Laboratory at Howard Campus, a laboratory facility currently used for testing for COVID-19.

"This generous donation will greatly enhance our existing capacity to provide rapid results on COVID-19 tests for both our staff and students. At the same time, by extending our testing facility to external stakeholders, we are able to generate much-needed third-stream income for the university," said Prof Chuturgoon, who is the Acting Dean of Research in CHS and a lead researcher in COVID-19 testing platforms at UKZN. The generosity of the Gift of the Givers and Dr Imtiaz Sooliman, who is an ardent supporter of his alma mater, UKZN, is notable at a time when UKZN and other universities across the world grapple to contribute to the alleviation of this pandemic."

In this regard, Professor Chuturgoon pointed out that the Ilex equipment gives a turnaround time of six hours as compared to the usual 24-hour turnaround time using existing equipment.

Said Dr Ramsuran, another lead researcher: "We are very excited to have access to this advanced technology, which will have a huge impact especially with regard to speedy turnaround times particularly for high-risk situations. His sentiments were echoed by Dr Lungi Kwitshana, another researcher, who noted: "The instrument would also contribute to and enhance the excellent research endeavours within the college."

Founder of Gift of the Givers, Dr Sooliman said: "What makes the UKZN extra special is the quality, resilience and expertise of individuals and departments that continuolsly raise the bar for others to emulate. Gift of the Givers COVID-19 samples are tested at this very same UKZN facility. The professionalism, expertise, research ethic, humility and sincere dedication to humanity is unmistakable. Supporting such an institution with an ILEX pcr testing machine, to be honest, is just not enough. Prof Chuturgoon and his team of stalwarts do incredible justice to a great institution."

Further media enquiries can be directed to: Professor Anil Chuturgoon (UKZN) 083 778 2420 [email protected] or Cora-Lee Hemmero (Gift of the Givers) [email protected]