Inflatable COVID-19 Testing Labs Put into Use in Guangzhou Following Surge in New Cases

The first group of laboratories at Guangzhou Gymnasium (Source: China Daily)

To increase Guangzhou’s capacity to administer nucleic acid tests, which are used to screen those suspected of being infected with COVID-19, four groups of inflatable COVID-19 testing labs are being put into use in the vast metropolis in the Chinese province of Guangdong. The first group has officially started operation on Wednesday.

These laboratories are jointly built by Guangzhou Laboratory, National Respiratory Center, National Clinical Research Center of Respiratory Disease, State Key Laboratory of Respiratory Disease, the First Affiliated Hospital of Guangzhou Medical University, Guangzhou Institute of Respiratory Health, KingMed Diagnostics Group and MGI Tech.

Each group covers an area of about 210 square meters, with areas for reagent preparation, sample processing and amplification analysis.

The laboratories can receive more than 120,000 samples every day and issue results in six to 10 hours. By introducing automatic equipment, the number of medical workers can be reduced by eight while maintaining high efficiency.

The main medical equipment in the laboratory are produced by MGI Tech who focuses on R&D, production and sales of DNA sequencing instruments, reagents, and related products to support life science research, agriculture, precision medicine and healthcare.

Lin Siyuan, director of this project, told China Business Network’s reporters that the laboratory can be quickly installed within six hours, and be put into use after debugging all medical facilities for another six hours. The short construction period, along with a specific antibacterial film, can improve testing efficiency and ensure the safety of medical staff in case of a sudden viral outbreak.

The laboratory also adopts MGISP-NE384, a high-throughput automated nucleic acid extractor developed by MGI Tech. Together with a nucleic acid extraction kit, this machine is able to extract and purify nucleic acid from up to 384 samples in a day. Meanwhile, its HEPA filtration system and UV lamp ensure a safe working environment for lab technicians.

Professor Yang Zifeng, the assistant of the dean of Guangzhou Institute of Respiratory Health, said, “An inflatable COVID-19 testing labs is the same as the traditional testing laboratories in terms of functioning and safety, but it is more flexible and suitable for zone screening. At the same time, a lot of automation equipment has been added, which can greatly improve the screening speed.”   

Zhong Nanshan encouraged medical workers in the laboratory through a video on June 2. “Intensifying nucleic acid detection and cutting off the chain of infection as soon as possible is the primary task for Guangzhou. Through the coordination of Guangzhou Laboratory, we united all forces to launch the gas film mobile cabin laboratory. Let us work together to fight through the battle!”

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Guangzhou has also tightened anti-epidemic measures. From Wednesday, Shenzhen Baoan International Airport will require passengers from Guangzhou and Foshan to show their green health codes and negative results of nucleic acid tests taken within 72 hours of boarding their planes, China Daily reported.