The proactive detection of SARS-CoV-2 through testing is playing a key part in slowing contagion. Increased local testing is also helping identify more patients, including those with no symptoms that previously went undetected. The most reliable test is known as the PCR.
The microbiology units of the public hospitals in Malaga province are currently carrying out over 2,000 tests of this type a day, according to SUR investigations, although the regional health department doesn't give data on a provincial level. This number has been increasing since the pandemic started.
The Hospital Regional in Malaga has a lab capable of processing 2,400 PCR tests and software there can help plot local outbreaks using geolocalisation data. The first real test of this automated operation came after the outbreak at the Red Cross shelter in Malaga city in June. The hospital is already considering increasing its capacity if the number of reported cases grows.
The robotic equipment is called Opentrons Covid-19, and was donated by CovidRobots. It includes eight automated machines carrying out different stages of the analysis.
Currently the Hospital Regional is doing some 1,000 PCR a day, including samples sent in from outlying, area hospitals in Antequera, Ronda and Vélez-Málaga as well as local health centres in Malaga province. However, the three area hospitals mentioned also can carry out their own analysis of PCR in an emergency.
Malaga city's other main hospital, Clínico Virgen de la Victoria, is carrying out around 500 analyses a day on its equipment and there is also analysis under way at Marbella's Hospital Costa del Sol.
The PCR is a diagnostic test that can detect a fragment of genetic material from a pathogen. The process to carry it out correctly is relatively complex and needs specially trained staff to analyse it.
In total, some 2,000 PCR tests were being carried out daily this week in Malaga province's heath service facilities.