Coronavirus: Front-line Fighters

Coronavirus: The 'sixth sense' and long nights behind virus test kit

Dr Timothy Barkham from Tan Tock Seng Hospital and Dr Masafumi Inoue from the Agency for Science, Technology and Research worked with other scientists to develop a test kit to diagnose infections with high accuracy.
Dr Timothy Barkham from Tan Tock Seng Hospital and Dr Masafumi Inoue from the Agency for Science, Technology and Research worked with other scientists to develop a test kit to diagnose infections with high accuracy. ST PHOTO: JASON QUAH
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As merrymakers ushered in the dawn of 2020 with high spirits, infectious diseases experts in Singapore were on high alert. Their radars, honed by experience, had picked up on a series of pneumonia-like cases in Wuhan, China.

By the time the Chinese authorities alerted the World Health Organisation on Jan 31 that they had an outbreak of an unknown virus on their hands, scientists here were waiting to spring into action.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on February 16, 2020, with the headline Coronavirus: The 'sixth sense' and long nights behind virus test kit. Subscribe