Three new “panthers” join Queensland’s COVID fight

Queensland Health Minister Steven Miles told Parliament today the Palaszczuk Government had bought three new testing machines known as “Panthers” to bolster the states testing capability.

Mr Miles said the machines are just like their namesake - fast and intelligent. These new machines will be based at Toowoomba, the Sunshine Coast and Rockhampton Hospital laboratories, adding to the four Panthers bought earlier this year for the GCUH, Cairns, Townsville and Central Laboratories.

“This new equipment will mean tests will no longer need to be sent to Brisbane from those areas and will dramatically improve turnaround times for a range of important tests, including in the very near future COVID-19.

“Queensland’s laboratory testing is among the best in the world, and we’re continuing to lead the way,” Mr Miles said.

“Our capacity extends across the state, with testing hubs topping and tailing Queensland.

“And this Palaszczuk Government investment of over $897,000 will buy three new Hologic Panther Fusion Instruments to expand testing further, building on its initial investment of $1.098 million for the first four Panthers.”

Currently, the Pathology Queensland Central laboratory, Pathology Queensland Townsville laboratory and FSS Coopers Plains laboratory have the capability to undertake respiratory virus and COVID-19 testing.

“Queensland Health is uniquely placed as a public pathology provider - it has two distinct analytical test platforms and assays, and has plans to install more ,” Mr Miles said.

“This ensures we are well prepared and well placed for all novel coronavirus scenarios as demand increases for worldwide stocks.

“This will support us not just as we continue to respond to COVID-19 in 2020, but for the upcoming influenza season, and COVID-19 over the coming years as the globe continues to learn, diagnose and treat our community.”

The current diagnostic test used to screen for cases of COVID-19 looks for indicators of the virus in samples of people's sputum, and from specimens from the nose and throat.

Queensland Health uses the gold standard of viral testing, known as Polymerase Chain Reaction testing. This is a three phase test, which involves the extraction, purification, amplification and detection of virus DNA.

Queensland’s two largest private pathology providers Queensland Medical Laboratories (QML) and Sullivan and Nicolaides Pathology (SNP) also have recently developed testing capability and are supporting most of the private sector demand.

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