Vietnam imports 200,000 rapid test kits for large-scale Covid-19 testing

The Health Ministry has bought 200,000 rapid coronavirus test kits from South Korea for carrying out mass testing as the Covid-19 fight enters a crucial stage.

Deputy Health Minister Nguyen Thanh Long said at an online meeting Monday that there is no shortage of test kits to diagnose the novel coronavirus infection, including kits for real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and rapid testing.

The 200,000 rapid test kits imported from South Korea in the coming time will be used for testing 37,000 people in centralized quarantine areas, tens of thousands of people under home quarantine and those coming to Covid-19 hotspot Bach Mai Hospital in Hanoi from March 12 onwards, Long said.

Localities can either do real-time RT-PCR tests, a technique that combines reverse transcription of RNA into DNA and amplification of specific DNA targets using a polymerase chain reaction (PCR), or they can wait for quick test kits.

The Health Ministry also noted that rapid test kits should only be used after seven days after exposure to the pathogen. Before three days, the sensitivity and specificity are very low, it said.

Earlier, Vietnam had successfully produced test kits that help diagnose a Covid-19 infection in just an hour.

Currently, the health ministry allows 21 medical facilities around the country to carry out Covid-19 tests, in addition to the three approved by the World Health Organization.

On Monday, Hanoi Chairman Nguyen Duc Chung ordered the city’s Health Department to set up 10 teams and arrange 10 quick Covid-19 test stations around the Bach Mai Hospital to carry out mass testing in the context of the hospital becoming the country’s main Covid-19 hotspot with 25 infections.

Chung also asked the city’s Center for Disease Control, which received 5,000 rapid test kits from the ministry on March 29, to conduct rapid testing immediately.

“The kits will show results in 10 minutes through blood samples,” Chung said.

Hanoi, with 86 Covid-19 infections, is the locality with the highest number of cases among Vietnam’s 204.

Of the national cases, 55 have been discharged from hospitals so far, including the largest single-batch release of 27 from a Hanoi hospital Monday morning.

Many of the currently active cases are Vietnamese nationals returning from Europe and the U.S., foreigners coming from the same regions and those who’d come in contact with both groups of people.

The Covid-19 pandemic has killed more than 37,800 people after spreading to 200 countries and territories so far.


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