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UKZN partners with Aurum Institute to boost COVID-19 testing in impoverished areas in KZN

The University of KwaZulu-Natal's College of Health Sciences (UKZN CHS), in partnership with the Aurum Institute ( through its subsidiary GHI) as well as corporate sponsors - Nedbank, the Spar Group and Chroma Capital - have handed over 10 mobile testing clinics this morning to the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health at KZN's Disaster Management Centre in Durban. The clinics are fully equipped with the necessary material and trained staff to test an average of 120 to 150 people a day on a six-hour day.

Said College Dean of Research in UKZN's CHS, Professor Anil Chuturgoon: "The aim of this project is to reach out to extremely poor communities in the KZN region in the provision of COVID-19 testing. All of the testing is completely free of charge to the community. In partnership with the expert, Aurum Institute, we will examine samples that are extracted through swabs taken on-site. These will be examined in our state-of-the-art laboratories at UKZN through the conduction of Polymerase chain reaction (PCR).

"Through PCR, we will be able to amplify the small samples that were extracted from the swabs in order to study it in detail. UKZN will also provide an interpretation of the results, which we will share with the COVID-19 National Command Centre."

Professor Busisiwe Ncama, deputy vice-chancellor and head of UKZN's CHS, commented: "This partnership project is in line with UKZN CHS mission for social justice in health - we strive for inclusion and reaching the poor and marginalised communities. We are grateful to all our partners for making this a reality and to the UKZN team that is spearheading this initiative, under the leadership of Prof Anil Churturgoon."

The world-class team will provide screening and testing for the virus and are endorsed by the Department of Health. The UKZN team, headed by Chuturgoon, will also conduct novel research into the virus. Professor Veron Ramsuran, a high-impact researcher at UKZN and KRISP, said: "We are working with the Aurum institute, GHI and UKZN to offer testing to the community at a reduced rate. A group of UKZN scientists saw a niche area that could assist with the COVID-19 problem. Using our specialised skill set, we aim to contribute in a responsible manner. We are changing the way academia and diagnostics function by working hand in hand to provide support during the COVID-19 epidemic."

The Global Health Innovations (GHI) organisation is a team of scientific experts that have come together with specific expertise to fight the COVID-19 pandemic through high quality services in healthcare, including clinical, laboratory, surveillance and epidemiological prevalence studies through a cost-effective manner. The Aurum Institute has a reputable track record as being the best in mobile screening for infectious diseases. It suffered the recent loss of its Chief Scientific Officer, Professor Gita Ramjee, to COVID-19. This has motivated the team to work harder at fighting this virus.

1. Professor Anil Chuturgoon (UKZN) - 08377824202. Professor Busi Ncama (UKZN) - 08204496673. Dr Veron Ramsuran (UKZN) - 08265221604. Mahen Moodley (CEO of Chroma Capital) - 0825512766