Cambodia is among the first batch of 42 countries across the world that will receive from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), equipment that uses nuclear-derived techniques for rapidly detecting Covid-19.
The emergency assistance package is part of the Austria-based IAEA’s response to requests for support from around 90 member states in controlling the increase of Covid-19 infections worldwide.
This first batch of supplies, worth around €4 million ($4.4 million), will help countries use the technique known as real-time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction or real-time RT-PCR – described as “the most sensitive technique for detecting viruses currently available”.
The IAEA said realtime RT-PCR originally used radioactive isotope markers to detect genetic material from a virus in a sample. Through subsequent refining of the technique, the more common fluorescent markers are now used.
The IAEA said this initiative had gained strong support from several countries, which had announced “major funding contributions” to the effort.
In a list sent to the Philippine Daily Inquirer, the IAEA said Cambodia was among 12 countries in the Asia-Pacific region that would receive the virus detection equipment. Other recipients in Southeast Asia are the Philippines, Laos, Malaysia and Myanmar.
Elsewhere, the first batch of equipment is being sent to 14 countries in Africa, 12 in Latin America, three in Europe and also Palestine.
Laboratories in recipient countries will get diagnostic machines and kits, reagents and consumables to speed up mass testing, a crucial step in containing the pandemic.
Also included in the package are biosafety supplies, such as personal protection equipment and laboratory cabinets for the safe analysis of collected samples.
The IAEA said more deliveries would be made as more countries were expected to also seek help in the coming weeks.
In a statement, IAEA director-general Rafael Mariano Grossi said: “Providing this assistance to countries is an absolute priority for the IAEA.
“I am very grateful to the governments of the US, Canada, China, the Netherlands and Australia for their generous contributions.”
The 14 member states in Africa to receive the first batch of equipment are Burkina Faso, Republic of the Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Madagascar, Namibia, Nigeria, Senegal, Sudan and Togo.
The 12 Asian and Pacific member states are Cambodia, Iran, Laos, Lebanon, Malaysia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam.
The 12 in Latin America and the Caribbean are Antigua and Barbuda, Colombia, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela.
The remaining member states are Armenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Georgia in Europe, and Palestine.
PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER/ASIA NEWS NETWORK