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Coronavirus: WHO identifies 15 laboratories to provide reference testing Support

The World Health Organisation (WHO) says there are currently 15 laboratories that have been identified to provide reference testing support for 2019-nCoV.

As the coronavirus outbreak unfolds in the rest of the world — more than 31,400 people have been infected so far, and 638 people have died, – WHO is working with partners to strengthen global diagnostic capacity for 2019- nCoV detection to improve surveillance and track the spread of disease.

These laboratories include:

1. Armed Forces Research Institute of Medical Sciences, Thailand

2. Erasmus Medical Center, The Netherlands

3. Hong Kong University, Hong Kong SAR, China

4. Institute of Tropical Medicine, Nagasaki University, Japan

5. Institute of Virology, Charité, Robert Koch Institute, Germany

6. National Institute for Communicable Diseases, South Africa

7. National Institute of Health, Thailand

8. National Institute of Virology, India

9. National Public Health Laboratory, Singapore

10. Institut Pasteur Dakar, Senegal

11. Institut Pasteur, Paris

12. Public Health England, UK

13. State Research Center for Virology and Biotechnology, Vector Institute, Russia

14. United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention, USA

15. Victorian Infectious Diseases Reference Laboratory, Australia

WHO is working to ensure 2019-nCoV test availability, including: a) screening of 2019-nCoV PCR protocols from academic laboratories for validation data, b) evaluation of the potential to use existing commercial coronavirus assays (e.g. SARS-CoV) to detect 2019-nCoV with high sensitivity, and c) working with commercial and noncommercial agencies with capacity to manufacture and distribute newly-developed 2019-nCoV PCR assays.

To increase regional testing capacity, efforts to increase national capacity and provide regional reference laboratory support are ongoing. WHO has made 250,000 tests available to WHO Regional Offices and national laboratories. These tests are being shipped to 159 laboratories across all WHO regions.

WHO will also utilise the Shipping Fund Programme established by the Global Influenza Surveillance and Response System as a mechanism to send clinical samples from patients meeting the case definition of suspected 2019-nCoV infection to international referral laboratories.

National capacity for detection of 2019-nCoV must be strengthened so that diagnostic testing can be performed rapidly without the need for overseas shipping. One way this will be achieved is by working with existing global networks for detection of respiratory pathogens, such as National Influenza Centres.

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