Only one machine is malfunctioning but lab is still conducting PCR tests – Officials said

ECONOMYNEXT- Chinese technicians who have been rushed to Sri Lanka will be recalibrating machines carrying out PCR testing at a laboratory in Mulleriyawa after one device failed, the Director of the Health System Enhancement project Dr Anil Dissanayake said.

Dissanayake clarified reports that the new laboratory at the Base Hospital in Mulleriyawa was incapacitated due to the malfunction.

“Only the Automated Nuclear Acid Extractor is not working, but we are able to carry out tests using the manual method which is in use in all other laboratories in the country,” Dissanayake told EconomyNext.

“We are carrying out 200 to 300 tests a day in the laboratory although when we are fully functional we can carry out 500 every 12-hours,” he said.

The automated process speeds up the testing, he said. “The machine we believe needs recalibrating,” he added.

He said when the lab was built and the machines installed “it was not possible to bring in the required personnel to commission, calibrate and train as usual because of the Covid situation.”

Technicians from a company in China that has manufactured a high capacity Coronavirus PCR machine that is currently out of order has arrived in the country, the Chinese embassy in Colombo said yesterday.

“We learn that technicians from the #PCRtest manu company have landed tonight at #Colombo via the nearest flight, upon the emergent request from #SriLankan (sic),” the Chinese embassy in Colombo said in a message.

Sri Lanka’s second wave of Covid 19 infections which has tripled the number of Covid positive cases in a matter of weeks has strained the country’s capacity to test.

The country has conducted over 11,000 tests over the past two days in 26 labs across the country.
The Lab at Mulleriyawa dedicated for Covid testing was built in May this year for LKR246mn with assistance from the Asian Development Bank. (Colombo October 31, 2020)

Reported by Arjuna Ranawana

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