Public Health England (PHE) has announced that the novel coronavirus 2019-nCoV diagnostic test is being rolled out to laboratories across the UK, starting today (Monday, 10 February 2020). The increase in diagnostic capacity from one laboratory to 12 labs over the coming weeks, will accelerate the country’s testing capabilities, it said.
Furthermore, “to ensure that the country is prepared for further cases and to speed up the time from a sample being taken to a result in the lab, the test will be carried out by trained scientists across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland”.
Professor Yvonne Doyle, Medical Director, PHE, said: “Once China confirmed that they had identified a novel coronavirus, PHE was ready to test potential cases in this country. We have now trained scientists in labs across the UK to conduct the specialist test - ensuring that we are well prepared should we begin to see an increased number of cases across the country.”
The laboratories will be in the Scotland (2 laboratories), Northern Ireland, Wales, London, Cambridge, Birmingham, Bristol, Manchester, Leeds, Newcastle, and Southampton.
In addition to processing samples from suspected cases in this country, PHE is now working as a reference laboratory for WHO, testing samples from countries that do not have assured testing capabilities.
As of 7 February, a total of 620 UK tests have concluded, of which 617 were confirmed negative.