AU doctors bring first coronavirus testing to Augusta

Friday, March 20, 2020
News 12 at 6 o'clock/NBC at 7

(Source: WRDW)

AUGUSTA, GA (WRDW/WAGT) -- Hard work, late nights, and a group effort. An effort to bring the first coronavirus testing to Augusta.

"This is a major breakthrough” Suzha Anandh, a research associate, said. “This is actually the first time we'll be able to test here in Augusta for the coronavirus. Before this, doctors had to send those tests out to the CDC where results could take up to 72 hours to come in. This test, you'll get results in 2 hours."

Augusta University put out a statement this morning about having a test that will help reveal if you have COVID-19 in two hours.

Anandh says the team worked for 90 hours, nonstop, to make it all possible.

"We are here 24/7,” Anandh said. "I have a family, a husband and a daughter. I'm very happy they understand my time schedule and are supporting me.”

What did they make possible? Testing people in Augusta for the coronavirus.

Researches put samples in a plastic container and then load it up into a machine. In just two to three hours, patients can get a positive or negative result.

"Three hours versus days or weeks from the national reference labs makes a huge impact on identifying these patients who are high risk and quarantine them for future spread,” Dr. Ravindra Kolhe, director of GEM Lab, said.

Dr. Kolhe says it’s the first coronavirus test in the area. Aside from the CDC and DPH, there’s only one other, at Emory University, in the state.

Right now, they can run 72 tests a day. And they hope to increase that to 500 daily.

"There was such camaraderie in the lab, a team. Everyone was pitching in as much as they could,” Kolhe said. “These are people with young kids, mothers and fathers. Not just for the lab but for the department, Medical College of Georgia, but the city of Augusta and CSRA region."

The testing is only offered for people who come to AU for a positive confirmed screening, but doctors hope to expand it to more local areas and across the state as well.

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