A new testing kit is now available to test for Covid-19 in agriculture. Eurofins Agro UK, an agricultural materials analysis specialist, is introducing a way to test for the virus on surfaces and equipment.
Covid-19 can survive on surfaces for 72 hours and the ability to test for it in agricultural packaging and handling facilities will offer a new way to help protect employees and the public from the virus. The test kit packages have been developed for agriculture and are derived from other tests, produced by parent company Eurofins Scientific, that are already being used globally.
The kits contain swabs that are used to take a sample from potentially contaminated surfaces. Any surface that has a high risk of spreading the virus between employees such as door handles, communal toilets, canteens, meeting rooms, shared desks, machinery and vehicles can be tested regularly to prevent the spread of the virus.
Regular testing can be used to monitor and eventually strengthen the effectiveness of any measures put in place to protect against the virus. For example, it could highlight problems with a cleaning regime, allowing users to restrict access to a contaminated area and perform a deep clean.
The tests can identify the presence of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the virus that causes COVID-19. The SARS-CoV-2 test screens for the envelope gene (E-gene) present in a broad range of SARS- and SARS-related coronaviruses. It has an initial screening assessment to be used in conjunction with an Ident kit as a confirmation. This two-step procedure has been developed with the testing procedure recommended by the World Health Organization.
The method used is known as real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). The samples are processed to lyse any viral particles before extracting and purifying the viral ribonucleic acid (RNA) using magnetic beads that preferentially bind to the RNA contained within the viral envelope. Any resulting RNA is then transcribed into the complementary DNA, known as cDNA, using enzymes called Reverse Transcriptases (RT) and this is run through a thermal cycler to amplify the resultant DNA. This cycling is a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and will increase the copies of DNA until it is detected in real time by a fluorescent detector.
Testing now could save lives and help protect a farm or business’s ability to trade during the pandemic. Those looking to test should contact Eurofins directly on 01902 627 227 or email AgroTesting@eurofins.co.uk