The diagnostic landscape of this outbreak is changing quickly. The first COVID-19 cases were detected using genomic
sequencing, but multiple RT-PCR commercial and non-commercial assays have since been developed. As the
international case load increases, there is an urgent need to rapidly scale up diagnostic capacity to detect and
confirm cases of COVID-19. WHO has taken a three-pronged approach to enhance global diagnostic capacity for the
1) Developing a WHO network of 15 COVID-19 reference laboratories with demonstrated expertise in the
molecular detection of coronaviruses. These international laboratories can support national labs to confirm
the COVID-19 virus and troubleshoot their molecular assays.
2) Strengthening national capacity for detection of the COVID-19 virus so that diagnostic testing can be
performed rapidly without the need for overseas shipping. Existing global networks for detection of
respiratory pathogens are being utilized including, notably, the National Influenza Centers that support the
Global Influenza Surveillance and Response System.