Medical chiefs ramp up Covid-19 test capacity

Medical chiefs ramp up Covid-19 test capacity

Anti-viral meds arrive from Japan

Monks of Wat Matchantikaram in Bang Sue district wear face shields during their alms-taking procession on Tuesday. (Photo by Nutthawat Wicheanbut)
Monks of Wat Matchantikaram in Bang Sue district wear face shields during their alms-taking procession on Tuesday. (Photo by Nutthawat Wicheanbut)

Up to 40 more labs will be given approval to run tests for Covid-19 infections nationwide by the end of this month, according to the Department of Medical Sciences.

The department said on Tuesday there were currently 57 labs being assessed and certified to run tests,  with 40 more awaiting assessment before they can begin testing.

Once all 97 labs were up and running, they would have the combined capacity to do 10,000 daily tests in Bangkok and surrounding provinces and another 10,000 tests a day in the other provinces.

Department director-general Opart Karnkawinpong said the tests were largely intended to either detect traces of the virus, or look at the person's immune system.

The virus detection test gave a more accurate result and would show positive 5-7 days after an individual  contracted the disease.

The immune system test would register a positive after 10-14 days of infection.

The department chief reiterated that people should seek a coronavirus test only if they have a fever, cough or sore throat, or have been in contact with a Covid-19 sufferer, or frequented places where infections have occurred.

He said the Covid-19 test kits and solution liquids were reserved for use by medical establishments and hospitals, as permitted by the Food and Drug Administration. They were banned from retail sale. The tests must be carried out and results interpreted by professionals.

His comments are in line with the government's continued suppression of online sales of so-called home "Covid-19 test kits", which experts have confirmed are not effective in detecting the virus.  

Dr Opart said one of the fastest, most reliable test methods currently is the real-time polymerase chain reaction, recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO).

It is possible to get the result as quickly as three hours and it is accurate even if there is only a small amount of virus present in the body.

Samples are collected from body fluids in the person's respiratory system. This method is suitable for early diagnosis of the symptoms.

The Government Pharmaceutical Organisation (GPO) said on its Facebook page on Tuesday it had received delivery of 40,000 favipiravir tablets ordered from Japan on Monday.

The anti-viral drug was for treating lung infections was being distributed to hospitals in and outside of Bangkok. Of the tablets, 18,000 will be given to state-run regional hospitals which form the medical nerve centres of the clusters of infections in provinces.

The GPO said it expected an additional 100,000 favipiravir tablets will arrive from China on Friday and another lot of 200,000 tablets from Japan later this month.


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