Coronavirus nucleic acid tests now available to individuals
Nucleic acid test services to detect the novel coronavirus are now available at 50 medical institutions in Shanghai, meeting the increasing demands of those returning to work or school.
Results are available within 24 hours, according to the Shanghai Health Commission.
This comes as the central COVID-19 prevention and control team of China encouraged massive nucleic acid and antibody testing during a meeting on April 22.
Nucleic acid tests are the most popular way in China to detect coronavirus. Patients undergo a simple throat swab.
Travellers to the capital city Beijing must show a negative report for a nucleic acid test before checking into hotels. The health pass is also required for many students returning to school and employees returning to their work cities.
Prior to this new individual service, enterprises in the city have been allowed since April 8 to arrange nucleic acid tests for their employees if necessary by applying to local health commissions.
The price for the nucleic acid test is 240 yuan per individual, and 100 yuan for each company application.
The individual service is only available for Chinese citizens currently.
The antibody test service is expected to start at several hospitals from next week. This provides results in 30 minutes. It is used as a supportive method on those who have had the disease.
At Putuo District Central Hospital, the test facility is sited at the entrance of the hospital. People can take a test without reservation.
After registering their information by scanning a code, they are required to keep a one-meter distance while lining up
A team of 20 sample professionals ensure efficient testing, sterilization and ventilation.
“Patients with a positive result will receive their report within 24 hours," said Zhang Jie, deputy director of the Infectious Department at the Putuo hospital. "In that case we will report to the CDC for the next step including further investigation and quarantine. Those with negative results can come to collect their reports two days after their testing."
More than 170 samples have been collected at the Putuo hospital, so far all negative, with 90 being tested on April 24.
Wu, a teacher coming back to Shanghai from Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, was among the first batch being tested.
“The whole throat swab process is definitely not enjoyable. It feels prickling and I almost cried. Luckily it only takes less a minute,” he said.
Feng, a young lady who works for a famous media company, said: “I’m flying to Beijing for business next week, so a negative nucleic acid report is a must."
Tang, a businessman in the medical industry, said: “I came back from a business trip in Hubei Province, and I think it’s proper for me to have a test. Plus, many clients of our company require the health report before I enter their office buildings.”
In addition, Putuo District Central Hospital has also accepted applications from more than 140 firms, and conducted tests on more than 300 employees this month.
At Tongren Hospital, a designated testing institution in Changning District, those coming for tests can book online first and undergo the process without waiting. A special area inside the hospital is arranged to streamline the procedures.
“We have received a lot of inquiries about the nucleic acid test from the public, about 200 calls every day, especially after the new service for individuals was enabled,” said Gu Zhijian, head of Medical Section at Tongren Hospital.
By April 24, Changning District has received 700 applications from 269 companies and sampled a total of 630 people. No positive cases have been reported.
Yangpu District Central Hospital has started testing for company employees since April 13, receiving 30 patients every day on average. Occupations include shopping mall sales to catering service staff.
It also conducted 38 tests on April 22, its first day for individuals, and over 200 in total by April 24.
According to deputy director of the hospital's Outpatient Office Wang Junpeng, those being tested can choose to collect their reports by person or mail in one or two days.
Locating in a district rich in educational resources, the hospital has also prepared backup sites in case the sampling demand expands after schools fully resume.
"As more and more students are expected to return to campus, they can also apply for an antibody test at our hospital through their schools,"Wang said. "The local health commission will help arrange the process."