Belgium’s official coronavirus screening lab doubles testing capacity
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    Belgium’s official coronavirus screening lab doubles testing capacity

    A new testing device will be ordered by the reference Covid-19 testing centre to face a surge in demand. Credit: Public domain

    The officially-designated testing centre for the new Covid-19 coronavirus has nearly reached maximum capacity and has ordered a new testing device to cope with the demand.

    The KU Leuven tested 495 samples of patients suspected of being contaminated by the virus behind the global outbreak, a number which puts the university lab close to maximum capacity, head virologist Marc Van Ranst told De Standaard.

    To face the increasing demand the lab ordered a second fully automatic testing device which it expects to receive by next week at the latest, Van Ranst said.

    Operating with an additional testing device will ensure that testing is ongoing, allowing staff to use both American-made devices alternatively.

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    The surge in demand came as the number of confirmed cases in Belgium climbed, reaching 23 by Thursday morning from two at the weekend.

    Ten out of the 495 samples tested on Tuesday were confirmed positive and included the case of the first patient to have contracted the virus without travelling abroad.

    Van Ranst said that while the KU Leuven lab was the reference testing site in the country, other laboratories were also screening suspected infections.

    If another laboratory has a sample that tested positive, it is sent to the KU Leuven to double-check for false positives, Van Ranst said.

    Gabriela Galindo
    The Brussels Times