Mobile laboratory expands testing capacity and outreach in Lesvos


Today, the mobile laboratory of the Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine (BNITM) was set up and began operations in the newly built refugee camp in Kara Tepe on Lesvos island, Greece. The mobile laboratory was deployed at the request of the Greek authorities with financial support from WHO/Europe, under the framework of WHO’s Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network (GOARN).

For at least the next 2 months, 7 BNITM specialists and 1 Robert Koch Institute expert will be supporting national authorities in Greece to increase testing of sick people and their contacts for the COVID-19 virus, as well as other diseases.

“The mobile laboratory can test a large number of patient samples per day and make the results available to the medical staff in the new temporary refugee camp in Kara Tepe within a very short time,” explains Dr Martin Gabriel, Project Coordinator, Department of Virology, BNITM. The mobile laboratory was packed in about 20 boxes, flown from Germany to Lesvos by charter plane and from there transported to the refugee camp.

“WHO has been working at the forefront of the response with the government and other health actors since day one of the Moria fire. Since the beginning, scaling up laboratory services was identified as a critical need,” explains WHO Representative in Greece, Dr Marianna Trias. “We are grateful to BNITM for stepping in so rapidly with their mobile laboratory and assisting with the triple challenge of containing the COVID-19 outbreak, addressing the needs of the refugees and asylum seekers in the new site, and alleviating the pressures faced by the local hospitals.”

Supporting local authorities and medical teams, including Emergency Medical Teams, not only will the mobile laboratory contribute to interrupting COVID-19 transmission, but it will also ensure treatment at an early stage of COVID-19 and other diseases. Similar BNITM laboratories have already proven their worth in other outbreaks of infectious diseases, such as the Ebola epidemic in West Africa or the COVID 19 outbreak in Tirschenreuth, Bavaria.

Original source WHO/Europe

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