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Lao health official confirms COVID-19 diagnostic system reliable

Xinhua | Updated: 2020-03-04 14:29

VIENTIANE - Multiple diagnostic tests conducted in Laos are standardized and can reliably detect COVID-19, a senior health official said.

Local daily Vientiane Times on Wednesday quoted Director General of the Department of Communicable Disease Control, Rattanaxay Phetsouvanh, made the comment amid ongoing doubts as to whether official reports suggesting there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Laos are genuine.

Although, Laos shares a border with several outbreak countries and is host to many foreign workers, businesspeople and tourists, some critics in Laos and outside the country have voiced doubts over the no-case scenario.

Some 45 suspected cases had been reported in Laos as of Monday but all the tests carried out were negative, the report said.

Rattanaxay said Lao health authorities have made three diagnoses in each suspected case and the results cannot be covered up or falsified. The diagnoses were made by the National Center for Laboratory and Epidemiology, the Pasteur Institute, and the Microbiology Laboratory at Mahosot Hospital located in Lao capital Vientiane.

"We have not just made diagnoses at the National Center for Laboratory and Epidemiology only, but also sent (samples) to the Institut Pasteur du Laos for diagnosis," the director said.

The Institut Pasteur du Laos is networking with the Institut Pasteur in France.

Samples have also been sent for testing at the Microbiology Laboratory at Mahosot Hospital, which has a research cooperation program with Oxford University in the Britain.

"One person was tested three times at the three labs," Rattanaxay said, referring to a suspected case.

The director also said two foreign experts from the World Health Organization (WHO) are based at the National Center for Laboratory and Epidemiology.

Samples taken from people in Laos suspected of having the virus have also undergone diagnosis by WHO in Australia and they all tested negative, Rattanaxay said.

The National Center for Laboratory and Epidemiology has been certified by the WHO for flu diagnoses. The WHO inspects the Center every year to check that it meets the required standards, according to the report.

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