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Speed and accuracy vital for COVID-19 test kits Updated: 2020-03-04 13:21:24 KST

Within four hours, you will find out whether you have the virus or not.

Health workers first take samples by swabbing your throat and nose.
The samples are then sent to a lab where a technique called Polymerase Chain Reaction or PCR is used to amplify a particular genetic sequence from the novel coronavirus.
The gene amplification technique generates millions of copies of that genetic segment so that there is enough of it for doctors to diagnose the presence of COVID-19.
It will show a positive result for asymptomatic patients as well.

For the accuracy of those results, samples must be transported fast and be well-protected.

"The virus is in itself will stay around for a little period of time. One of the other next steps is to put it in into something that would isolate the genetic materials and that's actually very important because these genetic materials are actually very sensitive to degradation."

Some cases of mis-diagnosis have been reported in China due to contamination or destruction of samples.

But even in optimal conditions, the results can be inaccurate.
Especially at the early stages of infection, patients could have only a small amount of pathogens, and test kits may not be sensitive enough to detect the virus.
That's why a patient is tested multiple times.

"It takes a while for the virus to grow. We are often at the limited detection, and that would mean that sometimes there's a false positive or false negatives, if the level of the virus is too low."

"In South Korea, tests could be faster and more accurate thanks to this new kit developed by a local company."

"The new kit is more sensitive than previous ones, meaning it is able to detect the virus if smaller amounts are present, ranging between 10 and 50 pathogens, compared to the normal 50 to 100 pathogens.
This helps us diagnose patients at the early stage of disease and treat them quickly."

Authorized by the government last Thursday, this test kit will be used starting this week, becoming one of the four types of test available in the country.
And as the company produces all the primary ingredients on its own, the supply of the test won't be affected by any external factors.

Lee Kyung-eun, Arirang News.
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