Israeli labs said close to running out of reagents for virus tests

Israeli labs said close to running out of reagents for virus tests

Medical personnel producing coronavirus testing kits reportedly warn authorities they can only keep up supply for 2 more days as officials ramp up checks

A lab test for coronavirus. (Tomer Neuberg/ Flash90)
A lab test for coronavirus. (Tomer Neuberg/ Flash90)

Laboratories producing coronavirus testing kits in Israel said they only have enough supplies to continue making the tests for two more days, according to a Thursday report.

Due to the large number of tests carried out in recent days, the laboratories are running out of the reagents — substances used for chemical analyses — required by the tests, Channel 12 reported.

A lab manager said that researchers had warned of a shortage, but did not receive an answer from officials on how to address the issue.

The Health Ministry on Thursday said it had tested 7,833 people in the past 24 hours.

It was a big increase for a testing system that had been stuck in the 5,000-5,700 range on most days last week, and which has grappled with a range of setbacks, from Mossad bringing incomplete test kits and a temporary suspension in the publishing of results because of data errors.

Authorities said they are seeking to ramp up testing to at least 10,000 a day. On Tuesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered the Defense Ministry to acquire enough kits to perform 30,000 daily checks.

A Magen David Adom paramedic tests a woman for the coronavirus at drive-thru testing site in the northern city of Tamra on March 31, 2020. (Ahmad Gharabli/AFP)

Testing is currently reserved for people with symptoms who contact health services to report their condition.

People who have been entering Israel from areas hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic have entered the country without testing unless they requested a check.

Health authorities in recent days stepped up testing in Arab communities across the country.

Earlier this week there were unconfirmed reports that the Health Ministry was to conduct random coronavirus tests at supermarket chains, followed quickly by reports that the pilot program was called off over fears that Israelis seeking a COVID-19 test would flock en masse to the stores.

The Health Ministry on Thursday morning raised the tally of people infected with the coronavirus to 6,211, an increase of 620 over the previous 24 hours. Thirty-three people have died of the disease.

There were 107 people in serious condition, including 83 patients on ventilators, and 127 people in moderate condition. There were 289 people who had fully recovered from the virus, and the rest had mild or no symptoms.

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