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How the UP-developed COVID-19 test kits will be used

The UP-developed coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) testing kit is ready for field testing just as the World Health Organization declared the outbreak as a pandemic on Wednesday.

Hundreds of the kits will be sent to several hospitals for validation testing to determine if they are viable enough to be made commercially available.

Unlike over-the-counter pregnancy tests, the detection kit cannot be used by individuals at home and can only be handled by trained medical professionals in hospitals.

READ: UP-developed COVID-19 testing kit is 6 times cheaper than foreign counterparts

Here's a step-by-step guide on how the locally-developed testing kit will be used in detecting COVID-19:

1. Sample collection. Medical practitioners in personal protective equipment will collect both nose and throat samples from patients suspected with COVID-19.

2. Lab storage. The samples will be brought to designated hospital labs with a Biosafety level 2 classification.

3. RNA extraction. The throat and nose samples will be extracted for RNA—genetic material where the COVID-19 virus could be detected.

4. Testing kit. The RNA samples, which would be brought to another room, will be mixed with solutions from the locally-developed COVID-19 test kit.

5. Amplification. The mixture will be placed inside tubes and "amplified" using a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) machine, which is also used in hepatitis and HIV detection.

6. Virus detection. The machine will count the virus content and determine if they are positive or negative for COVID-19.

The process takes roughly one and a half hours, drastically reducing the waiting time for results which takes days when imported test kits are used.

Once the testing kit is validated by the WHO, it could be deployed for use in local hospitals. Around 200 kits can be manufactured in a week, with 6,000 already in stock as of press time. —MGP, GMA News