The Department of Medical Sciences is keen to try a new method of detecting Covid-19 using saliva which is more suited for mass testing, its director-general, Opas Kankawinphong, said on Wednesday.
The laboratories under the supervision of Public Health Region 5 are being prepared for the saliva-based tests as part of a pilot project, he said. Addressing a meeting on the new Covid-19 testing method in Nakhon Pathom on Wednesday, Dr Opas said the most effective way of testing was to collect samples from a person’s respiratory system.
However, such a method also exposed medical personnel who perform the sample collection to high risk of contracting the disease. It is also not convenient for taking samples from certain people including migrant workers, some of whom live in areas that are not easily accessible.
The Public health ministry has directed the department to experiment with new methods of sample collection. The agency has developed test kits compatible with the use of saliva samples.
Dr Opas said the new method allows saliva from five to six people to be tested per test, which is more economical and faster than other types of tests. The accuracy level is also high. The saliva-based tests would be safer for medical authorities as people can take their own samples and send them in for examination.
The tests will be conducted at the labs of the 14 medical science centres nationwide. The method targets migrant workers and those in high risk groups. Dr Opas said the number of labs, public and private, has been boosted to 209 across the country, from an initial two when the outbreak started.