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April 8, 2020 9:32 am

Israel Inks Deal With Chinese Firm to Enable 10,000 Daily Coronavirus Tests

avatar by Israel Hayom /

Technicians carry out a diagnostic test for COVID-19 in a lab at Rambam Hospital in Haifa, Israel, on March 17, 2020. Photo: Yossi Aloni/Flash90. – Israel has signed a NIS 90 million ($25 million) deal with Chinese firm BGI to procure equipment that will allow it to increase its daily coronavirus testing capacity to at least 10,000, the country’s Ministry of Health said on Tuesday.

As of Tuesday, 9,248 Israelis have been diagnosed with the virus, which has so far claimed 65 lives. Some 770 Israelis have recovered from it.

According to the Health Ministry, the new equipment will be installed in six laboratories over the next few weeks, and will be used alongside Israel’s current testing facilities.

BGI’s website describes it as a global genomics company based in Shenzhen, China, with clients in more than 66 countries.

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The new equipment is designed to perform polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests to directly detect viral nucleic acids indicative of COVID-19. BGI’s tests have been used widely in China, and are being distributed to over 50 other countries and regions, the firm said.

BGI said its equipment delivers test results in three hours. The testing kits also come equipped with a supply of reagents necessary for the chemical analyses of the tests. Israeli laboratories have nearly run out of these materials, something that has hampered their operations.

According to Channel 12 News, the number of tests conducted in Israel on Tuesday fell under 2,000—far below the goal of 30,000 daily tests ordered by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu two weeks ago.

In the past week, the ministry did not release official testing numbers.

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