Japan donates testing tools for novel coronavirus

By Sen    February 8, 2020 | 02:40 am PT
Japan donates testing tools for novel coronavirus
A staff of the National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology in Hanoi monitors the nCoV after it was successfully cultured and isolated in the lab, February 7, 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Nguyen Chi.
Hanoi's National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology has received the first part of a $127,000 Japanese aid package to carry out nCoV tests.

The first part of the 14-million-yen aid from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), containing virus testing tools worth $30,000, was received by the institute (NIHE) Friday.

The biological tools will help the NIHE improve the efficiency and quality of testing for nCoV infections, helping the country fight the deadly epidemic that has so far killed more than 700 people, mostly in China.

In Vietnam, 13 people have been detected with the virus.

The institute has been tasked by the Ministry of Health to study samples collected from suspected cases of nCoV infections in northern Vietnam.

Japan has helped Vietnam fight epidemics earlier by facilitating better testing of pathogens when the country was hit by the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in 2003 and the avian influenza A (H5N1) the following year.

Vietnam's labs were not equipped then to conduct quality tests. Japanese aid projects helped install safe testing labs in 2006 and train health professionals from 2006 to 2016.

An ongoing five-year project that started in 2017 is helping increase the capacity of health professionals in conducting safe testing of infectious pathogens in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. JICA has sent two of its professionals to work at NIHE, the Pasteur Institute in HCMC and provincial disease control centers.

Vietnam officially declared the 2019-nCoV an epidemic on last Saturday. Three people infected with the virus have recovered and been discharged from hospitals.

The global death toll has reached 724 – 722 in mainland China and one each in the Philippines and Hong Kong.

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