HCMC equipped with automated Covid-19 testing system

By Le Phuong   February 17, 2021 | 02:33 am PT
HCMC equipped with automated Covid-19 testing system
A medical worker holds a vial containing samples for Covid-19 testing in HCMC, April 20, 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran.
The HCMC Center for Disease Control (HCDC) on Wednesday was equipped with the automated Covid-19 testing system worth VND5.2 billion ($224,144) that hastens the process by up to 40 percent.

The Cobas 4800 system utilizes real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) technology for Covid-19 testing, capable of processing 96 samples at once and returning results within two hours, the HCDC said. While the center already has five RT-PCR machines, worth VND2.5 billion each, they involve more manual procedures and so require more time and labor force, the center added.

The system's sponsor was not identified.

Nguyen Hoai Nam, deputy director of the HCDC, said automating Covid-19 testing would save time by up to 40 percent and also reduce exposure risks for medical workers. The automated systems would also help boost HCMC's testing capacity, he added. The city is currently capable of testing up to 150,000 samples a day, according to the HCMC Department of Health.

Earlier this month, the southern metropolis became a location of Covid-19 concern after its Tan Son Nhat International Airport, Vietnam's largest, recorded several community transmissions. From Jan. 30 to Feb. 16, the city has performed Covid-19 tests on around 40,000 samples, including 5,400 from Tan Son Nhat ground staff and their family members.

The HCMC health department on Tuesday requested people entering the city from other localities within the last 14 days to medically declare themselves to authorities. Meanwhile, the HCDC said those entering HCMC from areas experiencing Covid-19 outbreaks or areas being imposing social distancing must enter centralized quarantine for 14 days and be tested four times. The HCDC also began randomly testing those entering the city via public transport.

The city is receiving a large number of people coming back to work after the seven-day Tet break.

Since late last month, HCMC has recorded 36 local Covid-19 cases out of the country's 719 amid a new Covid-19 wave affecting 13 cities and provinces. The national tally now stands at 2,311, including 699 active cases.

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