Alaska’s State public health laboratories now have the ability to test for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), according to a statement from the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services.
The new capacity is made possible by test kits provided to states by the Centers for the Disease Control and Prevention to allow for rapid COVID-19 testing.
If a hospital or a health care provider suspects that a patient has novel coronavirus based on the CDC guidance, they should contact the Section of Epidemiology within the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services. If DHSS epidemiologists determine that testing for COVID-19 is warranted, they will provide guidance on how to test and ship samples to the labs.
State public health labs in Anchorage and Fairbanks are able to test for COVID-19. Under most circumstances, initial test results should be available within 4-6 hours of specimen arrival at the laboratory. Personal health information will remain confidential, but the public will be notified if Alaska has a positive case of novel coronavirus.
“Alaska has had no cases of COVID-19 as yet,” said Alaska’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Zink. “We’re grateful that we now have the capacity to conduct these tests in state, before any testing needed to be done.”
Providers can reach the Section of Epidemiology by calling (907) 269-8000 or (800) 478-0084 after hours.
The World Health Organization has now raised the risk assessment from high to “very high” for the virus.