Since the spread of the virus, Ethiopia has reported more than 99,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 1,500 fatalities and 60,000 recoveries to date. Healthcare workers are required to wear personal protective equipment (PPE) including respirator masks, gowns, gloves, eye protection, and aprons. An estimated 89 million medical masks, 76 million gloves and 1.6 million goggles were required during the COVID-19 response each month worldwide.
Another problem is the mismatch of collection capacities compared to the testing capacities. Despite the capability to do a large amount of COVID-19 tests, most laboratories, including International Clinical Laboratories (ICL), are underutilized due to the low rate of sample collection across the country which in turn is due to a lack of PPE for health professionals working in sample collection. Lack of PPE and proper supplies as well as the lack of trained workers and a sophisticated collection network cause a low rate of sample collection and thus, a low rate of tests being conducted. Furthermore, there is no existing private testing network and the government’s testing network is not well-established enough to deal with the needed capacity.
All these factors pose risks since they promote the spread of COVID-19. Therefore, the proposed project aims to tackle the PPE shortage by reducing the PPE use in the collection booths to a minimum and by setting up a Coronavirus-preventive private sector network for the collection of the specimen samples to then test and detect possible SARS-CoV-2 infections early on. Additionally, 100,000 free SARS-COV-2 tests will be offered to especially vulnerable and system relevant groups, like refugee camps and higher risk border zones and the healthcare, public transportation, the aeronautical industry, and finance sector across Ethiopia.