US CDC only conducted 70 coronavirus tests in one week

Coronavirus deaths might have been wrongly attributed to pneumonia or influenza

News about the coronavirus on Times Square in New York 

News about the coronavirus on Times Square in New York  (AP photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) ran just 70 tests for the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) in the week from March 5 despite promises by President Donald Trump that millions of test kits would soon be ready.

A total of 54 tests were completed at CDC labs on March 5, with another 16 tests the following day. However, from March 7-10 not a single virus test was conducted, media reports said.

At public health laboratories, eight tests took place on March 10, a drop of 97 percent from the previous day, according to London’s Daily Mail. A lack of funding was the main cause why the response to the virus had been slow in the U.S., CDC Director Robert Redfield told Congress Tuesday.

Some federal government test kits produced inconclusive results. This forced manufacturers to reconfigure them while hospitals went ahead with designing their own testing systems.

The lack of testing was also blamed for a probable underreporting of coronavirus cases, with deaths having initially been ascribed to influenza, CNN reported. Redfield told Congress that some cases in the U.S. had been diagnosed as the flu but were in fact instances of fatal coronavirus.

There was a surveillance system in place for deaths from pneumonia, but it was not present in every city or at every hospital, CNN quoted the CDC’s top man as saying.