In the course of the year, HUSLAB increased its coronavirus testing capacity from a few dozen tests per day to more than 20,000 PCR tests per day.
HUSLAB began preparing for the novel coronavirus early, around New Year 2020, when news of the new virus detected in Wuhan in China began to trickle out into the world. A coronavirus infection is diagnosed with a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test for nucleic acid detection in a sample of respiratory tract mucus.
We were able to deploy a coronavirus PCR test quickly in collaboration with the University of Helsinki. We analyzed our first coronavirus PCR sample on January 23, 2020 and found our first positive sample on January 29, 2020. HUSLAB was the only diagnostic laboratory in Finland up until February 26, 2020.
Increasing the capacity for coronavirus analysis became an acute issue very soon after the outbreak began. Initially, we increased capacity by switching to work on a round-the-clock basis. Next, we added capacity by adding more analysis equipment.
At the end of April, we introduced coronavirus antibody tests for health care personnel. We adopted a coronavirus PCR rapid test at emergency clinics on May 18, 2020. Rapid tests are mostly used on patients admitted to inpatient care.
Corona Center ensured sufficient analysis capacity
In the autumn, it became necessary to further increase our capacity for analyzing coronavirus test samples. We set up the HUS Corona Center, consisting of the HUSLAB virology laboratory at Meilahti and the Kivihaka automated analysis line leased from SYNLAB Suomi Oy.
We analyzed our first samples in Kivihaka, at the largest coronavirus laboratory in the Nordic countries, on October 6, 2020. Since the HUS Corona Center was set up, we have had sufficient capacity for analyzing coronavirus test samples to cover both the local population and passengers arriving from abroad. We have also been able to offer analysis capacity to other hospital districts. The throughput time for samples, from booking to delivery of results, has remained under the target time of 24 hours.