The microbiology team at Basingstoke North Hampshire Hospitals is the first non-PHE lab to have gone live for detecting Covid-19.

Since the beginning of February, they have started testing and are now able to carry out 75 to 100 tests.

The team plans on testing 200 for detecting the virus in a month’s time.

Clinical scientist from Hampshire Hospitals, Stephen Kidd, who led the charge to get the testing up and running, said: “Our small team of six have been working flat out. Testing has been successful, we’ve shared our data and are reporting to Public Health England on how we have done it.

“Primer Design was the first company to set up the test and we have collaborated with them to test real-life situations on patients returning from China.”

Stephen said there is limited testing available in the UK and people are waiting three of four days for their Covid-19 results.

Now, the microbiology team is able to obtain a result in 12 hours and manage patients with rapid diagnosis.

“The main challenges we face are the increase capacity to meet the demand. There is an increased demand in equipment, and we need a larger team.

“Lots of hospitals have funds to purchase equipment provided by NHS England,” Stephen added.

The clinical scientist also that that doctors of molecular biology are stopping their research to volunteer their time to help the team.

Alex Whitfield, chief executive of Hampshire Hospitals, said: “I am exceptionally proud that Hampshire Hospitals was the first non-Public Health England lab to successfully go live with testing for COVID-19 (Coronavirus) earlier this month. Our lab colleagues are hugely innovative, and they are making a big difference to our patients.

“Microbiology isn’t what comes to mind for most people when they think of hospitals, but they play a critical role, and this is just one incredible examples of how our innovation and patient care go hand in hand at Hampshire Hospitals.

“The level of expertise, determination and rapid response to a developing situation shown by our microbiology team is matched by the rest of our staff across our hospitals, who are all working extremely hard to provide the best possible care for our patients in these challenging times.

“We were in a fortunate position to be able to link with a local company in Chandlers Ford, Primer Design, who partnered with us to provide the testing kits needed and we are very delighted that we could join forces to make this a reality so quickly.”