Virus testing sites reportedly close early due to shortage of lab materials
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Virus testing sites reportedly close early due to shortage of lab materials

Health Ministry said to order medical personnel to cease offering new tests due to dearth of chemicals in laboratories

An ultra-Orthodox Jewish boy receives a COVID-19 test by a medical personnel wearing protective gear as part of the government's measures to stop the spread of the coronavirus in the orthodox city of Bnei Brak, a Tel Aviv suburb, March 31, 2020. (AP/Ariel Schalit)
An ultra-Orthodox Jewish boy receives a COVID-19 test by a medical personnel wearing protective gear as part of the government's measures to stop the spread of the coronavirus in the orthodox city of Bnei Brak, a Tel Aviv suburb, March 31, 2020. (AP/Ariel Schalit)

Virus testing facilities operated by the Magen David Adom emergency services organization were reportedly closed early on Thursday due to a shortage of testing material in laboratories.

The drive-through testing sites were ordered closed at 9 p.m. instead of at 11 p.m., Channel 12 reported.

The Health Ministry ordered MDA to cease offering new tests because the labs were unable to handle them. Israelis can only be tested after confirming an appointment with medical personnel.

MDA is currently holding some 8,000 testing samples awaiting transport to Health Ministry processing facilities that cannot take them, the report said.

The group also reported a shortage of its own materials, hampering further testing in the field.

Earlier Thursday, Channel 12 reported that laboratories processing coronavirus testing kits in Israel had only enough supplies to last two more days.

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, the report said.

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

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.

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.

The Health Ministry on Thursday night raised the tally of people infected with the coronavirus to 6,857. Thirty-four people have died of the COVID-19 disease.

There were 108 people in serious condition, including 87 patients on ventilators, and 126 people in moderate condition. There were 338 people who had fully recovered from the virus, and the rest had mild or no symptoms.

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