Equipment from South Korea doubles Covid-19 testing capacity

Laboratory at Ninewells Hospital in Dundee becomes first in Scotland to install a specialised analyser.

A hospital laboratory has more than doubled its Covid-19 testing capacity after becoming the first in Scotland to install a specialised analyser from South Korea.

The virology laboratory at Ninewells Hospital, Dundee, was testing around 300 samples a day, but this will now rise to around 700.

The fully-automated new equipment also cuts the time taken from sampling to testing roughly in half, meaning quicker results.

Health Protection Scotland has ordered two further analysers for the site, which will take testing capacity to 1400, as well as ordering the machines for NHS labs in elsewhere in Scotland.

Chris Hind, clinical laboratory manager at Access Laboratories, said the analysers mean “more patients can be tested faster and have their results reported faster”.

He added: “These analysers will further support the great work of the NHS Tayside testing team.

“They will allow us to test more patients, more key workers and more care home residents, and ensure the Tayside virology team remains at the forefront of the fight against coronavirus.

“This analyser will also support the Scottish Government priorities of ‘test and protect’, giving a shorter turnaround time to allow rapid reporting to the medical, nursing, infection prevention and control, and health protection teams.”

Ninewells was the third laboratory in Scotland to provide diagnostic tests for Covid-19, following those in Glasgow and Edinburgh.

It enabled NHS Tayside to become the first health board in Scotland to test health and social care staff and their households, as well as other key workers, with more than 5000 such samples analysed since the launch on March 18.