PCR Machine Bolsters COVID-19 Testing in Djibouti - Africa Defense Forum
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PCR Machine Bolsters COVID-19 Testing in Djibouti

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The U.S. government recently donated a $76,000 machine used to detect viruses and other infectious agents to Djibouti.

The polymerase chain reaction (PCR) machine, which will improve testing for COVID-19, was bought with funds approved by U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM). The machines amplify isolated DNA samples for molecular and genetic study and also are useful in detecting HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and hepatitis C, among other diseases.

As the PCR machine was delivered to Health Ministry facilities in Djibouti City, Larry E. Andre, U.S. ambassador to Djibouti, lauded the pandemic response of the Horn of Africa nation’s government and health workers.

“This machine will allow Djiboutian doctors and researchers to study and verify local strains of coronavirus and other infectious diseases. It will provide an essential technology in the government of Djibouti’s strategy to fight the global pandemic,” Andre said in a Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa news release. “It will greatly expand Djibouti’s testing efforts.”

U.S. Army. Col. Jim Lucas, a surgeon, added that the PCR machine will provide “faster, better results” in COVID-19 testing.

Djibouti requested the PCR machine — also known as a thermal cycler — from the U.S. earlier this year. The U.S. has donated almost $300,000 worth of medical supplies to Djibouti since its first COVID-19 case was recorded in late March. Donations include 95 hospital beds, electrocardiogram machines that monitor patients’ vital signs, 25,000 pairs of latex gloves, 4,000 masks, 500 hygiene kits, and hand sanitizer, among other supplies and equipment.

Saleh Banoita Tourab, secretary general of Djibouti’s Ministry of Health, thanked U.S. officials for the recent donation, saying it will be useful in conducting COVID-19 research.

In June, Tourab was at a hospital in Djibouti City, where the U.S. delivered 60 hospital beds worth $9,000.

“One recognizes one’s friends in times of extreme need, and that is the meaning of this generous donation you have just made to us,” Tourab said during the June delivery, according to a U.S. Department of Defense news release. “Let us renew our sincere thanks and know we remain convinced that the cooperation and friendship between the Republic of Djibouti and the United States of America is getting stronger.”

According to the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, COVID-19 had infected almost 5,400 Djiboutians and killed 60 as of September 5. The infection rate has decreased since June 22, when Djibouti reported just under 4,600 cases.

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