Efficient and timely virus testing is a crucial prerequisite for early identification, reporting, isolation, diagnosis and treatment. Testing casts direct impact on the effectiveness of epidemic prevention and control. WHO has called on all countries to ramp up testing programs. Dr. Tedros, Director-General of WHO, made it clear at the media briefing in Geneva on March 16, “We have a simple message for all countries: test, test, test. Test every suspected case.”
First, testing helps identify sources of infection and facilitates overall and targeted planning of epidemic prevention and control. Testing being one of the main means, identifying sources of infection is the precondition and basis of infectious disease prevention and control. China tested potential infectors to identify confirmed cases. On this basis, China adopted a series of measures including conducting targeted epidemiological investigation, tracing close contacts, as well as quarantining and testing close contacts. These have effectively prevented further spread of the epidemic.
Second, testing helps with timely diagnosis and facilitates early treatment to raise the cure rate and reduce the fatality rate. Virus test is an important diagnostic criterion for COVID-19. Timely virus tests shorten diagnosis time and guarantee early diagnosis and treatment, thus being a key measure to raise the cure rate and reduce the fatality rate. According to the statistics of the National Health Commission, the proportion of severe cases in Wuhan dropped from 38 percent in the early stage to 18 percent on February 17 through early diagnosis and treatment and continuous observation of mild patients after admission.
Third, testing helps categorize patients and facilitates timely diagnosis and treatment of other diseases. The initial symptoms of COVID-19 are similar to those of many other diseases such as influenza, which can easily lead to misjudgments. Through testing and screening, patients with other diseases can be excluded and receive timely and targeted treatment.