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Kopenhagen / Hamburg / Kara Tepe - The mobile laboratory of the Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine (BNITM) is now ready for use in the newly built refugee camp in Kara Tepe on the island of Lesbos, Greece. The mobile laboratory was sent at the request of the Greek authorities as part of the World Health Organization (WHO) Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network (GOARN) with financial support from the WHO Regional Office for Europe.
Laboratory specialists from the BNITM, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) and other institutions will support the national authorities in Greece in increasing COVID-19 testing and treatment of other diseases.
"The mobile laboratory can test a large number of patient samples per day and make the results available to the medical staff of the new temporary refugee camp in Kara Tepe within a very short time", says Dr. Martin Gabriel, project coordinator of the Department of Virology at BNITM. The mobile laboratory was packed into about 20 boxes, flown from Germany to Lesvos by chartered plane and transported to the refugee camp.
"Since the fire in Moria, WHO has been working on the front line with the Greek Government and other health care actors from day one. From the outset, the increase in laboratory services was recognized as a critical need," explains Dr. Marianna Trias, WHO representative in Greece.
"We are grateful to the Bernhard-Nocht-Institut for stepping in so quickly with its mobile laboratory to help meet a triple challenge: containing the COVID 19 outbreak, meeting the needs of refugees and asylum-seekers at the new site and easing the pressure on local hospitals," explains Trias.
By supporting local authorities and medical teams, including emergency medical teams, the mobile laboratory will not only help to break COVID-19 infection chains, but will also help to ensure treatment of COVID-19 and other diseases at an early stage. Similar BNITM laboratories have already proven their worth in other outbreaks of infectious diseases, such as the Ebola epidemic in West Africa or the COVID-19 outbreak in Tirschenreuth, Bavaria.
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About the Bernhard-Nocht-Institute for Tropical Medicine
The Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine (BNITM) is Germany’s largest institution for research, treatment and training in the field of tropical diseases and new emerging infections. The current scientific focus is on malaria, haemorrhagic fever viruses, immunology, epidemiology and clinical studies of tropical infections as well as on the mechanisms of the viral transmission by mosquitoes. For the handling of highly pathogenic viruses and infected insects, the Institute has laboratories of the highest biosafety level (BSL-4) and a BSL-3 insectary. The Institute has been appointed by the Federal Ministry of Health as the National Reference Center (NRC) for the detection of all tropical pathogens as well as by the WHO as Collaborating Center for arboviruses and haemorrhagic fever viruses. In collaboration with the Ghanaian Health Ministry and the University of Kumasi the Institute has been operating a modern research and training center in the West-African rain forest for over ten years, which is also available to external research groups.