Public Health England (PHE) has launched novel coronavirus diagnostic test in the UK, in a bid to better deal with the virus that causes serious respiratory illness.

PHE plans to increase the diagnostic capacity from one laboratory in London to 12 labs in the coming weeks to boost the testing capabilities of the country.

The UK is said to be one of the first countries outside China to provide the testing capability for the novel coronavirus.

The PHE’s laboratories, situated in London, can process samples from more than 100 people per day.

Coronavirus diagnostic test to be performed by trained scientists across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland

To address further cases and expedite the time from a sample being taken to a result in the lab, the new test will be performed by trained scientists across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

The latest move will help to increase the processing of samples from over 1,000 people per day in England.

The clinician will collect samples from the nose, throat and deeper respiratory tract when the patients are suspected to be infected with the novel coronavirus. Later, they will be forwarded for laboratory testing.

By applying the diagnostic test, the scientists will collect the data related to the presence of any type of coronavirus and then file in on specific genetic clues, which detect the novel coronavirus linked with the outbreak.

The PHE’s Colindale laboratories will continue to carry out the confirmatory test. In addition, the PHE is serving as a reference laboratory for WHO to test samples from countries, which cannot have assured testing capabilities.

The laboratories are located in Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales, London, Cambridge, Birmingham, Bristol, Manchester, Leeds, Newcastle and Southampton

PHE medical director professor Yvonne Doyle said: “Once China confirmed that they had identified a novel coronavirus, Public Health England was ready to test potential cases in this country. We have now trained scientists in labs across the UK to conduct the specialist test – ensuring that we are well prepared should we begin to see an increased number of cases across the country.

“The roll-out to other parts of the UK is the fastest deployment of a novel test to PHE and NHS labs in recent history, including in the Swine flu pandemic in 2009.”

Recently, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted an emergency use authorisation (EUA) status for the first 2019 novel Coronavirus diagnostic test.