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Hubei governor calls for faster diagnoses

By ZHOU LIHUA in Wuhan and CUI JIA in Beijing | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2020-02-04 07:54 菲律宾申博太阳城官网

The governor of Hubei province urged local authorities to have all samples of the novel coronavirus tested within two days.

The procedures for sending samples must be streamlined to ensure speedy diagnosis, and third party centers will play a more important role. Those that cannot diagnose remaining samples within two days will be held accountable, Hubei Daily quoted Governor Wang Xiaodong as saying during a meeting on Sunday.

Delays in diagnoses in Hubei-the epicenter of the outbreak-have become a key obstacle in controlling the epidemic, Liu Ziying, director of the Health Commission of Hubei province, said during a news conference held in the provincial capital of Wuhan on Thursday.

There are 89 places in Hubei that can diagnose samples, including provincial and city level disease control and prevention centers as well as 41 hospitals and third party diagnosis centers, she added. "Their maximum capacity is 6,000 diagnoses a day."

Meanwhile, biopharmaceutical companies around China have been working around the clock to produce testing kits.

"The production of the diagnostic kits can basically meet the demand while the manufacturers continue to increase production capacity that is about 60 to 70 percent currently due to the Spring Festival holiday," said Tian Yulong, chief engineer of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.

There are mainly two types of diagnostic kits that are being developed and used for the novel coronavirus: one that directly tests for the antibody that human bodies produce to fight the virus; and the other that tests for the nucleic acid of the virus, which is more accurate, but extracting the nucleic acid from blood samples is relatively time consuming.

Two diagnostic kits for the antibody of the novel coronavirus jointly developed by the Wuhan Institute of Virology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and a biopharmaceutical company are in production and soon will be released to the market, Wang Wei, a leading official of the Hubei Department of Science and Technology, said during a news conference held in Wuhan on Sunday evening.

"The kits are easy to operate and can protect the users from getting infected," Wang said.

Also, teams at Zhongnan Hospital of Wuhan University have optimized the procedure of extracting the nucleic acid of the virus, which has helped cut diagnosis time in half. The fastest diagnosis time is only two hours, he added.

Besides making faster diagnoses, the experts have also been working hard to develop vaccines and drugs to fight the virus.

"Animal experiments in which primates are infected with the virus have been carried out, and the infection model on primates has been established. This will further support the development of vaccines," Wang said. "Also, two chemical compounds have been proven to be effective in restraining the activity of the virus, which will speed up the process of developing drugs to treat patients."

Zhang Dingyu, president of Wuhan Jinyintan Hospital, said at the news conference on Sunday that the hospital was the first to use Kaletra-a medication for the treatment and prevention of HIV/AIDS-to treat patients with the novel coronavirus.

"It seems that Kaletra is effective on patients with early symptoms. It can help prevent the disease from getting severe and life threatening, but we still need stronger evidence," said Zhang, adding that he has noticed that Kaletra is seen as a cure for the novel coronavirus on the internet.

Zhang warned people that the side effects of Kaletra include gastrointestinal discomfort, allergy and hepatic damage.

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