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‘Spike of new cases means early separation of community infectees’
  • By Choi Gwang-seok
  • Published 2020.02.25 17:49
  • Updated 2020.02.25 17:49
  • comments 0

The recent surge in the confirmed cases of coronavirus in Kora is a positive sign that indicates Korea can separate infected patients in communities at an early stage, according to experts.

The optimistic interpretation came at a meeting of related organizations, including the Korean Society for Laboratory Medicine, Laboratory Medicine Foundation, Korean Association of External Quality Assessment Service, Korea Society for Genetic Diagnostic, and Korea Association of Referral Laboratories.

According to the results of the meeting, Korea can perform 15,000 tests in a day, including 10,000 tests made by medical institutions and referral laboratories. The number of tests is likely to increase as more medical institutions will be designated to conduct tests soon.

The heads of institutions that conduct coronavirus tests hold a news conference in Seoul on Tuesday.

A total of 39,279 tests have been conducted on 24,248 patients as of last Saturday.

Kwon Kye-cheol, head of Korean Society for Laboratory Medicine, said that his society had established diagnostics method for COVID-19 jointly with the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, based on scientific and objective reviews. The organization is using two reagents approved through appropriate performance evaluation.

"The government has chosen institutions with excellent diagnostic records among laboratories that have experienced physicians in a genetic test, given the importance of tests’ accuracy," Kwon told a news conference on Tuesday.

The number of cases in Korea has risen steeply over the past week or so. However, the surge also suggests that the nation is confirming local virus holders early. The goal of the diagnostic test is to stop prevention, he added.

Commenting on the reversal of test results from negative to the positive response, he said that is because the amount of virus in the body is too small to react to the test positively. Also, the virus sample could have been collected inappropriately, he added, noting that it might require retests if the subjects’ symptoms worsen after negatively responding to the initial test.

As the confirmed cases continue to spike, Kwon said he would increase the number of testing institutions from the current 77 to 90.

Chang Chul-hoon, head of the Korean Society of Clinical Microbiology (KSCM), said the training system of laboratory medicine doctors has proved to have worked well.

“The United States only allows the Centers for Disease Control and Prevent and a few other authorized organizations to conduct the test. In Japan, two approved university hospitals can test the patients. The efficient operations of Korean testing organs show the nation’s investment in human and physical infrastructure has borne fruit,” Chang said.

The institutes are not suffering from a lack of reagents, either, he noted, adding that a large number of recently confirmed patients in North Gyeongsang Province are transported throughout the nation.

Chang also explained that the delay in testing is due to the required time to collect samples from suspected patients.

"Japan is conducting 100 tests daily, while we are performing between 12,000 and 20,000 in a day. About eight thousand tests are currently standing by, which we can finish in a day and a half," he added.

cks@docdocdoc.co.kr

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