ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) — With increasing cases of COVID-19, Ethiopia has opened a facility to produce kits to test for the coronavirus and says its researchers are working to develop and test a vaccine.
The company producing the testing kits is a joint venture with a Chinese company, called BGI Health Ethiopia.
Ethiopia’s number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 has risen to nearly 64,000 causing almost 1,000 deaths, according to government figures. On Sunday, Ethiopia also opened a field hospital to hold up to 200 severely affected Covid-19 patients, which will start admitting patients immediately.
Ethiopia has conducted more than 1.1 million tests, making it the African country that has carried out the third-highest number of tests, according to Ethiopian health officials. The country is struggling with a shortage of testing kits, ventilators, and intensive care beds, they said.
Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said during the factory’s opening Sunday that the lab will produce 10 million testing kits per year, which will be used in the country and exported, with priority given to other African countries.
“The factory will also provide commercial laboratory services for a total of 3 million transit passengers at Bole International Airport and in Addis Ababa city,” the prime minister stated, adding this will boost the testing capacity of Ethiopia and other African countries.