By Sun Li, Wang Ruitao and Wang Junbo
WUHAN, Feb.25 -- The newly-built novel coronavirus nucleic acid testing (NAT) lab in Huoshenshan Hospital was officially put into operation on February 24. The lab can handle more than 200 samples on a daily basis and will significantly improve the turnover rate of patients in the hospital.
According to Wang Zhihua, chief technician of the testing department in Huoshenshan Hospital, the initial setup of Huoshenshan Hospital did not include a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) laboratory (gene amplification laboratory, also known as nucleic acid testing laboratory). Wuhan Center for Disease Control and Prevention helped them with all the testing. “We wasted a lot of time on the sample transfer process. It was also very risky because we could only see rough negative or positive results without detailed data of the reactions, which made further clinical advice and interpretation not easy. So we determined to build this laboratory to enhance the hospital's own testing capability, and to facilitate clinical research and treatment," he said.
The new lab is located in the medical technology building in the northwest corner of the makeshift hospital. Its design has been subjected to careful and scientific scrutiny of experts of bio safety and gene amplification. The lab adopts P2 + safety level with negative pressure. Strict infection control standards and work flows are formulated in order to minimize the risk of infection. The medics will take strict three-level protection measures and operate in biological safety cabinets, the standard of which is much higher than that of ordinary 3A hospitals.
It is also known that the NAT lab has separated the reagent preparation area, sample processing area and amplification and result analysis area. It can carry out pathogen detection of suspected or confirmed cases as well as aerosol monitoring in the medical area. The number of samples tested daily would exceed 200.
Xia Xinyi, head of the testing department of Huoshenshan Hospital, expressed: "We can also further improve the testing capability through staff shifts and non-stop operation of the instrument, so we can achieve the testing of four or five hundred samples daily." In terms of testing capacity, we have reached the level equivalent to a specialist hospital for infectious diseases, so as toensure the normal operation of 1,000-bed in hospital and rapid turnover of patients as well.