Work never stops at Health Ministry’s lab for diagnosing Coronavirus

Damascus, SANA – The staff at the Health Ministry’s Emergent Diseases and Epidemics Laboratory work around the clock, conducting Coronavirus (COVID-19) diagnosis tests using the standardized kits approved by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Director of the Public Laboratories Department at the Ministry Dr. Shebl al-Khouri said that the Ministry has 5 PCR machines that can conduct over 100 tests per day, while other labs in Aleppo, Homs, and Lattakia conduct similar tests.

Al-Khouri said that after nasopharyngeal and oropharyngeal swabs are taken from patients suspected of contracting the Coronavirus, the swabs are kept in a medium that preserves the virus and are sent to the Ministry’s labs where tests are conducted.

He said the swabs are analyzed in two stages: the first extracts the virus’ DNA, and the second enlarges it to produce the results, and if a test comes out positive, it is repeated to verify the results, and afterwards the Ministry is notified to take the necessary treatment and quarantine procedures for patients.

Al-Khouri noted that swabs remain viable for analysis for 12 days, adding that samples from deceased persons can also be tested to verify whether the cause of death is related to the Coronavirus.

He asserted that the Department’s staff are working 24/7 to ensure the early detection of COVID-19 cases so that patients can receive the proper treatment as soon as possible and limit the spread of the disease.

In turn, Deputy Director of the Emergent Diseases and Epidemics Laboratory Dr. Hanan Zaza said that the COVID-19 test takes more than 5 hours, and that all necessary measures have been taken to protect the staff working at the lab, particularly in the department where the virus is extracted where workers wear full protective suits, goggles, and special masks.

Hazem Sabbagh

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