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SA Pathology COVID-19 Response

29 June 2020

SA Pathology’s ability to respond to the SARS-CoV-2 threat with great speed and agility was thanks in great part to the significant expertise of the Microbiology and Infectious Diseases Directorate.

Within weeks of the novel pathogen being described on the international stage, our scientists and microbiologists had developed an in-house assay for SARS-CoV-2, enabling us to test our first sample on 31 January 2020.

Since then, our in­house assay has been further refined and integrated into the multiplexed respiratory assay to maximise throughput, producing among the highest testing rates per capita in Australia.

SA Pathology has developed capacity to manage surges in testing through the addition of further testing platforms, including the Roche Cobas® 6800. Addition of another commercial assay, the Cepheid® Xpert test, has provided rapid testing capacity in 7 metropolitan hospitals and 10 regional laboratories.

Rapid laboratory detection remains a cornerstone for control and containment of  SARS-CoV-2. It permits swift case isolation and screening of contacts, with containment of disease clusters.

The laboratory response has been possible because of a team effort within SA Pathology starting with specimen collection teams, through data entry staff, laboratory personnel and many others, including staff from other Directorates who assisted with various tasks.  Beyond SA Pathology, there has been effective collaboration with public health authorities, Infectious Diseases Physicians and the general medical community to achieve a world-class response to the COVID-19 pandemic in SA.