Alaska labs can check for coronavirus

State health officials say their laboratories now have the ability to test for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), thanks to test kits provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

No cases of COVID-19 had been confirmed in Alaska as of Feb. 28, but health officials are grateful that they now have the capacity to conduct these tests in state, before any testing needed to be done said Dr. Anne Zink, the state’s chief medical officer.

Hospitals and healthcare providers who suspect that a patient has COVID-19 should contact the Section of Epidemiology within the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services. Providers can reach the Section of Epidemiology at 907-269-8000 or 800-478-0084 after normal business hours.

If DHSS epidemiologists determine that testing for COVID-19 is warranted, they will provide guidance on how to test and ship samples to the state lab.

Both state public health labs in Anchorage and Fairbanks are able to test samples, and under most circumstances, initial test results should be available within four to six hours of specimen arrival at the lab.

While personal health information will remain confidential, the public will be notified if the lab determines that someone in Alaska has tested positive, DHSS officials said.