UZKN secures Covid-19 rapid-testing tool from Gift of the Givers

29 June 2020 - 16:16 By Nivashni Nair
Prof Anil Chuturgoon, Dr Veron Ramsuran and Dr Lungi Mkhize-Kwitshana from the UKZN College of Health Sciences receive the new equipment for Covid-19 testing.
Prof Anil Chuturgoon, Dr Veron Ramsuran and Dr Lungi Mkhize-Kwitshana from the UKZN College of Health Sciences receive the new equipment for Covid-19 testing.
Image: supplied

The College of Health Sciences at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) can now give a Covid-19 test result in just six hours, thanks to a new instrument called the Ilex Genechecker.

The "ultra-fast PCR" [polymerase chain reaction], valued at almost R175,000, was donated by Gift of the Givers following a request made by UKZN researchers Prof Anil Chuturgoon, Dr Veron Ramsuran and Dr Lorna Madurai.

The instrument was handed over to the university on Thursday and placed at its microbiology laboratory at Howard campus, a 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," said Chuturgoon, who is the acting dean of research at the college and a lead researcher in Covid-19 testing at UKZN.

"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."

The university said in a statement on Monday that the generosity of Gift of the Givers and its founder Dr Imtiaz Sooliman - who is an ardent supporter of his alma mater, UKZN - is notable at a time when the institution and other universities across the world grapple to contribute to the alleviation of this pandemic.

"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," said Ramsuran.  

His sentiments were echoed by Dr Lungi Mkhize-Kwitshana, a researcher at the college, who noted that "the instrument would also contribute and enhance the excellent research endeavours within the college". 

"What makes the UKZN extra special is the quality, resilience and expertise of individuals and departments that continuously raise the bar for others to emulate," said Sooliman.

"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 testing machine, to be honest, is just not enough. Prof Chuturgoon and his team of stalwarts do incredible justice to a great institution."


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