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    Thailand’s First Automated COVID-19 Test System in Use at King Chulalongkorn Memorial Hospital

    “The new COVID-19 rapid test system at King Chulalongkorn Memorial Hospital is fast, safe, and most importantly automated – reducing contact between patients and medical practitioners”, reveals Assistant Professor Dr. Pokrath Hangsasuta, Researcher at the Virology Unit, Department of Microbiology, Faculty of Medicine, Chulalongkorn University. The automated test system is 99% accurate and has received the US FDA approval. The system has also been tested in Thailand and laboratory results have been consistent. The automated system can compute up to 1,440 samples per day, with results coming back within 3-5 hours during the initial phase. After the initial test period, the turnaround time is expected to be shortened to 90 minutes.

    Assistant Professor Dr. Pokrath says that the test requires specimen collection from a viral throat swap, which can be collected at King Chulalongkorn Memorial Hospital or other participating hospitals. Once the samples are in the system, the genome target will be extracted to check for viral infection. The process can be observed from outside the laboratory as the machine operates automatically. This makes it safe for hospital staff as they do not have to be involved in the examination process.

    As of today, the COVID-19 test system has serviced over 300 patients from King Chulalongkorn Memorial Hospital and other private hospitals in Bangkok. Unfortunately, this test method is not yet available outside of Bangkok as proper training is required prior to collection and handling. Although the King Chulalongkorn Memorial Hospital has a limited capacity of around 200 cases per day, patients suspected to have the virus and need to be tested can have the specimen taken at other hospitals and sent over to King Chulalongkorn Memorial Hospital.

    “The automated COVID-19 test system makes it practical to fight the virus, as we are able to diagnose patients faster.  The system will also help reduce physical contact between patients and medical staff”, says Assistant Professor Dr.Pokrath.

    The automated COVID-19 test system at King Chulalongkorn Memorial Hospital, valued at 15 million Thai baht, was a donation from the TCP Group.