The mission of the Department of Virology of the National Health Laboratory Service (NHLS) and the University of the Witwatersrand is to be a centre of excellence for diagnostics, research and teaching and training in Virology
The laboratory service includes the investigation and diagnosis of viral infectious diseases through a number of serological and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) based diagnostic tests. In addition, emerging viral infections like the recently emerged severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus type 2 (SARS-CoV-2) of 2019 continue to pose major threats to public health. Due to our proximity to major international air and land ports of entry establishing diagnostics methods for rapid identification of emerging and re-emerging viral pathogens of national, regional and global concern will form an important component of our specialized test repertoire. Our department offers diagnostic and consultative services to the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital (CMJAH), Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital, Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital and other surrounding hospitals and clinics. As part of the response to the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic in 2020 to date, various members of the department have played key roles in provision of virological expertise in various forums – Ministerial Advisory Group, SAHPRA, Covid19 Working Groups as well as the participation in the National Genomics Surveillance for SARS-CoV-2 consortium.