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South Africans can get private coronavirus tests from Monday

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As from Monday, South Africans can walk into private laboratories for a coronavirus test without it being done via the National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD) and doctors.

Lancet Laboratories’ clinical virologist Prof Eftyhia Vardas said that with the increasing number of countries that have sustained person-to-person spread of the coronavirus — named SARS-CoV-2 — and continued international travel, demands for the testing  was increasing.

“Lancet Laboratories will be offering testing for SARS-CoV-2 from March 9. Epidemiological information will still be collected on all patients and all results will be shared with the NICD, which remains the reference centre for this epidemic,” she said.

The test would cost about R1,200.The current laboratory diagnostic tests for the virus are done by using a technique called polymerase chain reaction or PCR.Vardas said PCR looked for portions of specific viral genetic material.

“If it does not find these fragments, the result is negative. If the viral genetic material fragments are identified, they will produce a signal that is interpreted as positive for the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

“Another respiratory PCR for other viral infections may be requested in some instances by a referring doctor to exclude influenza and other common respiratory viruses, and this will have an additional cost of about R1,200.”

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