March 19, 2020 / 3:27 PM / in 18 days

Polish coronavirus testing lab suspends work after employee tests positive

WARSAW (Reuters) - A coronavirus testing laboratory in Warsaw has suspended work after one of its employees tested positive for the virus, effectively sending 17 staff into quarantine.

“This is a risk inherent in the implementation of these tasks on the front line,” Grzegorz Juszczyk, the head of Poland’s National Institute of Hygiene, where the lab is located, told private broadcaster TVN.

The individual was not involved in the testing process, but had contact with many people in the lab, Juszczyk said, adding that the facility was carrying out between 60 and 120 tests daily.

None of the people involved in the diagnostics process have shown symptoms of the virus to date, Juszczyk said.

There are 21 coronavirus labs in Poland in total.

Some Poles have complained of a shortage of tests as the World Health Organization has pressed countries to carry out more of them to curtail the spread of the coronavirus.

Poland is expected to receive 10,000 test kits from China, as well as thousands of items of protective gear, the foreign ministry said this week.

Polish Health Minister Lukasz Szumowski has repeatedly insisted that Poland is testing at a sufficient pace, telling Polish radio that around 1,500 tests were currently being completed per day.

Poland has confirmed 325 coronavirus cases and five deaths to date.

Juszczyk said he hoped new teams would be created to allow testing at the lab to resume within 48 hours. In the meantime, surfaces in the laboratory would be decontaminated.

“I don’t see any threat to the entire diagnostic process,” he told TVN.

Reporting by Joanna Plucinska; Editing by Kirsten Donovan

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