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Taiwan mulls implementing rapid PCR tests at COVID-19 hotspots

ROC Central News Agency

06/14/2021 09:30 PM

Taipei, June 14 (CNA) The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) on Monday said it was mulling implementing rapid polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests at COVID-19 hotspots across Taiwan in order to eliminate diagnosis delays.

The purpose would be to improve the efficiency of COVID-19 testing and also to reduce the waiting time for COVID-19 results, the CECC said.

Since a domestic COVID-19 outbreak began in Taiwan in May, the government has been setting up numerous testing sites at COVID-19 hotspots across the country, where the recipients are required to receive not only a rapid antigen test but also a PCR test as the latter remains the country's standard in confirming COVID-19 cases.

Unlike PCR tests, which look for traces of the SARS-CoV-2 virus' genetic material in a patient's mucus, the rapid antigen testers are used to detect the protein of the virus.

Anyone who receives a positive result from a COVID-19 rapid test is sent to either a hospital, government quarantine center, or their home to quarantine themselves as they wait for their PCR test results.

Those who receive a negative rapid test result, meanwhile, will be asked to monitor their health while waiting for their PCR test result.

On Monday, the CECC said it was planning to adopt the rapid PCR test when people test positive in a rapid antigen test.

According to CECC official Lo Yi-chun (羅一鈞), results through a rapid PCR test can be provided in about 20 minutes, down significantly from the current 3.5 hours as required by a standard PCR test.

Both methods involve using a nasal swab to collect mucus to determine whether or not the COVID-19 virus is currently present. The only difference is the time at which the results can be provided.

The rapid PCR test was first put to use at Taoyuan General Hospital when Taiwan launched the travel "bubble flight" from Taiwan to Palau in April, Lo said.

(By Chiang Huei-chun, Chen Chien-ling and Ko Lin) Endlitem/cs

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