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NHS increases COVID-19 testing capacity, FDA halts foreign inspections

New measures to tackle the novel coronavirus announced across the Atlantic

Coronavirus map

The novel coronavirus epidemic – which could be on its way to becoming a global pandemic – has prompted health authorities and agencies across the globe to introduce new measures as respective governments respond to growing outbreaks.

That includes the UK’s National Health Service (NHS), which announced today that it will increase its capabilities to test for the coronavirus, which causes the respiratory disease known as COVID-19.

Currently, 1,500 tests can be carried out per day, but as cases continue to rise in the UK, the NHS has said it will increase its capacity for testing to 10,000 per day.

The health service will also fast-track positive test result confirmations in an attempt to help those who do have the virus to take appropriate actions – with most people getting their results back within a 24 hour time-frame.

As of the 10 March, Public Health England confirmed it has tested over 26,000 people in the UK for COVID-19, with 373 of those tests coming back positive, and six deaths of individuals who had tested positive for the coronavirus.

UK Health minister Nadine Dorries is included in the number of confirmed cases, after she tested positive for COVID-19 this week.

According to the Department of Health, Dorries began presenting with symptoms last Thursday, the same day that she attended an event hosted by prime minister Boris Johnson.

Meanwhile, across the Atlantic, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has decided to halt most foreign inspections through April, effective immediately.

The move is in response to the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak, with the decision to stop physical foreign inspections outside the country based on a number of factors.

This includes a US State Department travel advisory which prohibits travel for US government employees, as well as further Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) travel recommendations.

The FDA also cites access restrictions on foreign visitors which have been put in place in certain countries as a reason for the suspension of foreign inspections.

In a statement issued yesterday, FDA commissioner Stephen Hahn reassured the public that the agency will be able maintain an “oversight over international manufacturers and imported products using alternative tools and methods”.

“We are aware of how this action may impact other FDA responsibilities, including product application reviews,” said Hahn.

“We will be vigilant and monitor the situation very closely and will try to mitigate potential impacts from this outbreak in lockstep with the whole of the federal government,” he added.

According to The New York Times, confirmed cases of COVID-19 have climbed above 1,000 in the US – with the number of deaths in the country reaching 24.

Article by
Lucy Parsons

11th March 2020

From: Healthcare

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