Datasheet: Tracking Patient Samples in A Covid-19 Screening Laboratory

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The Coronavirus Covid-19 pandemic has sadly already claimed the lives of over 3.38 million people worldwide. The World Health Organization (WHO) has stated that widespread testing of people for Coronavirus Covid-19 will help health services identify infected patients and more effectively focus resource to first curb, and then defeat, this virulent pathogen. With test samples in many countries now numbering millions per week there is a critical need to quickly and reliably test and keep track of patient samples.

Most Coronavirus Covid-19 testing discussed by public officials and the press refers to Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) testing. These tests start with a nasopharyngeal swab, or a swab that goes up the nose far back into the throat. This swab collects mucous, saliva, bits of cells and if present viral RNA. The samples are then sent to a laboratory, where researchers apply chemicals to remove everything but the RNA. Enzymes are then added to transcribe the RNA into DNA. Next, this DNA is put into a real-time PCR (RT-PCR) system along with another set of chemicals. The RT-PCR system heats and cools the samples in a process that essentially copies the DNA, making thousands of copies of any genetic material in the samples. Scientists then use sets of DNA fragments that complement fragments found in the Coronavirus Covid-19. If any viral genetic material is present, these fragments will bind to it. Chemical markers attached to the DNA will fluoresce when this DNA binding occurs. It is detection of these fluorescence emissions that scientists use to determine whether the virus is present in a sample.

Testing laboratories worldwide are challenged by the explosion in sample test numbers where they need to reliably track suspected Coronavirus Covid-19 patient swabs to 2D-coded tubes and then through to racks of 96 tubes. For this task a fast scanner that takes and stores high quality images is the preferred solution for establishing a traceable workflow of scanned patient swab tubes through to RT-PCR ready 2D-coded tube samples. As camera-based instruments, the Ziath Cube and Mirage scanners combine high image quality and fast scanning to provide reliable results in just a couple of seconds. The Mirage accepts all SBS-format tube racks, whilst the Cube can additional accept the larger Cryobox format, making it easy to present coded sample tubes, even when wearing cryoprotective or anti-contamination clothing.

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To watch both the Cube and Mirage scanners being demonstrated by staff from Ziath please visit

Ziath Ltd specialises in instrumentation control and information management in both the academic and the pharmaceutical/biotech industry sectors with a specialisation in the application of laboratory automation. We focus on managing large sample libraries in biobanking, biotech, public health and compound management using 2D data matrix bar-coded tubes. Ziath produce both rack readers and tube pickers for 2D tubes in racks. We are world leader in 2D-barcoded tube and rack scanners, with a large range of CMOS-camera based scanners than any other manufacturer. We design, build and maintain all our own scanners and picking devices in our Cambridge UK facility. We support our customers with free applications advice, after-sales support and upgrades to their scanners as well as a comprehensive five-year parts and three-year labour warranty.