Pakistan's first robot-operated COVID-19 testing lab opens in Islamabad

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With an aim to increase the capacity of COVID-19 diagnosis in the country, Pakistan in collaboration with the UK has launched a highly advanced robotic mobile laboratory in Islamabad.

The state-of-art lab, launched in partnership with Opencell UK on Thursday, is specified to meet the requirements for high throughput COVID-19 RT-qPCR testing. The lab requires only six staff members in all shifts to operate as it uses five liquid handling robots and can process up to 2,000 tests each day.

Speaking at the event, British High Commissioner Dr Christian Turner said the project was a symbol of close cooperation between Pakistan and the UK.

“UK is proud of having been in the forefront of the fight against COVID-19 in its efforts to pursue a vaccine and its distribution internationally, as well as for providing development assistance to a broad spectrum of COVID relief, through UK Aid, to Pakistan,” he said.

Meanwhile, Pakistan recorded over 2,000 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours for the first time in over three months as the national tally reached 352,296 on Friday, the health ministry said.

Thirty-seven more patients died due to the disease, taking the death toll to 7,092, it said. Another 321,563 people recovered while some 1,219 were in critical condition. The number of active coronavirus patients stood at 23,641.

At least 2,304 new cases were detected after conducting 36,932 tests across the country, showing an alarming positivity rate of 6.32 per cent, it said.

The last time when over 2,000 cases were detected was on July 17. As many as 2,085 infections were recorded that time after 23,907 tests were conducted, registering a 8.72 per cent positivity rate.

The authorities are tightening restrictions and taking fresh measures to contain the second wave of the coronavirus in the country, but so far without any sign of reduction in the cases.