A medical worker performs Covid-19 test at a laboratory in Nghe An Province, central Vietnam, April 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Van Hai.
The Ministry of Health has approved the use of GeneXpert, a tuberculosis test, for Covid-19 screening.
It is a real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test that has been used in Vietnam since 2012.
Nguyen Viet Nhung, director of the National Lung Hospital in Hanoi, said the test is similar to RT-PCR, gives accurate results for both Covid-19 and tuberculosis and could be automated to a great degree.
The results are available in 35-45 minutes, he said.
Rapid tests on the other hand need to be done at the right time, when the body has enough antibodies, to get the correct result, he added.
Vietnam is currently using both RT-PCR and rapid tests for Covid-19 screening.
The country has around 200 GeneXpert testing machines at 28 laboratories. Da Nang, now a Covid-19 hotspot, has three, but can get more from Hanoi if needed.
The National Lung Hospital is set to procure 16,000 GeneXpert test kits from Sweden by August 15.
It will distribute them first to Covid-19 hotspots such as Da Nang, Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City and the provinces of Quang Nam, Thanh Hoa and Dak Lak.
Medical personnel at all localities have been trained to perform this test.
Hanoi ran out of Covid-19 rapid test kits earlier this week after screening over 88,000 people who had returned from Da Nang since July 8.
While waiting for the new test kits, authorities encouraged people to monitor themselves for symptoms, strictly adhere to 14-day quarantine procedures and take all recommended protective measures.
As of Saturday morning Vietnam’s Covid-19 tally was 789, including 384 active cases and 10 deaths.