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Cyprus

Coronavirus: private labs will join testing efforts but most don’t have the equipment

The use of private labs will increase Covid-19 testing but the number of clinical laboratories which will be able to carry out molecular test is limited, head of the association of clinical laboratories Charis Charilaou said on Tuesday.

The reason is that specialised equipment which is needed for testing is not available in most places.

The association has asked its members to report which of them are able to carry out the test following a request by the president. The labs can inform the association or the health ministry directly if they are ready to provide the service.

Charilaou said there are about 130 of them, but “there will not be too many laboratories responding to the call, because the equipment needed for this examination is very expensive.”

“We as clinical laboratories are here to help in this battle,” he said, adding that “those who have the equipment and infrastructure and are licensed in the field of microbiology have the opportunity to offer their services.”

He noted the whole process will be controlled by the ministry of health to which laboratories are required to report the number of positive and negative cases.

“What we will cover is the part that does not fall under the protocol implemented by the ministry of health’s monitoring team,” he clarified.

When people have called 1420 and it has been decided over the phone that the test is not required for them as they do not meet the criteria, but they still want to get tested, they can do so at a clinical lab.

Charilaou said stocks of reagents needed for testing were low in clinical laboratories. “There is some stock but the number of reagents the labs now have is not huge. We have ordered more and are waiting for the dealers to bring it to us if it is available on the world market,” he commented.

He stressed the need to protect laboratories by asking people to first communicate with a lab over the phone instead of visiting to see how the sampling is done. All the necessary information on how the test is carried out will be supplied over the phone.

The test will cost around €150.

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