New smaller virus testing kits ‘could deliver quicker results’

New smaller virus testing kits ‘could deliver quicker results’

Lancet Laboratory Rochester Place nurse Mukhethwa Audry Ramalata tests patients for coronavirus during drive-through testing, 18 March 2020, in Sandton, at the lab. Patients arriving at the facility have all been referred by a doctor to be tested. Picture: Michel Bega

The NHLS has deployed mobile laboratories in Gauteng, Western Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Free State to collect samples for testing.

The National Health Laboratory Services (NHLS) said on Thursday the new testing kits for the coronavirus, due to arrive in South Africa in April, could produce quicker results.

It said the national lab had 180 of these GeneXpert analysers available in all provinces.

“The test kit for the GeneXpert was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) last week and the company had started production.”

Dr Kamy Chetty, the NHLS chief executive officer, said, with these analysing machines, tests can be processed in 45 minutes and it is also smaller and able to fit into mobile clinics, making it ideal for community testing.

“It’s a pity this new test kit was not available sooner as it would have made a huge difference to how testing gets done. We are, nevertheless, pleased that it will be ready shortly,” Chetty said.

The NHLS has deployed mobile laboratories in Gauteng, Western Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Free State to collect samples for testing.

“With all five sites functional, the NHLS has the capacity to process 5,000 samples in 24 hours. But this number will now increase to 15,000 in 24 hours in April. At the end of April, the NHLS will be able to process approximately 36,000 tests in 24 hours.”

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