Testing is based on PCR method and is currently carried out by 14 laboratories across the country, including the Lugar Center (the national reference laboratory in Tbilisi), the Infectious Diseases, AIDS and Clinical Immunology Research Center (Tbilisi), the Regional Center for Infectious Diseases, AIDS and TB (Batumi), the TB and Infectious Pathology Center for West Georgia (Kutaisi), as well as one private laboratory Neolab (Tbilisi). The government has a strategy of expanding the network of laboratories should the need arise, and the two of such surge laboratories have already been assessed by WHO. More than 570,000 PCR tests have been conducted up to 23 September, with daily capacity of existing designated laboratories being over 7000 tests.
The Lugar Center has been able to test samples for COVID-19 according to international protocols since 4 February 2020 and it has sufficient supply of test kits. Initially, only suspected cases (people who travelled abroad or had contact with overseas visitors and had symptoms of acute respiratory infection) were tested. From 1 April 2020, in addition to people who meet the criteria for the case definition, also hospitalized patients diagnosed with pneumonia of unknown origin are tested. At this stage, frontline medical personnel are also targeted with aggressive testing. The latter will be further extended based on the algorithms developed by NCDC (considering disease dynamics, needs, WHO recommendations and global good practice). Testing can be requested by the examining physician or by epidemiologists.
To effectively manage increased epidemiological risks in light of the opening up of the economy, the Government of Georgia has identified high-risk groups that will be subject to mandatory PCR testing, including:
- Patients from any medical facility or outpatient clinic who have a fever and signs of respiratory disease or other suspicious clinical signs.
- Medical staff working in medical institutions and in primary health care.
- Staff of emergency medical care and disaster brigades
- Beneficiaries and service personnel placed in specialized day care facilities for the elderly and disabled
- All persons newly diagnosed with tuberculosis prior to inclusion in treatment
- Staff working in psychiatric medical institutions
- Patients on dialysis and their service personnel
- People in quarantine and people in self-isolation 24 hours before leaving the space
- Staff working in quarantine spaces
- Persons employed in customs checkpoints and border crossings, as well as in economic zones
- Personnel and epidemiologists employed in all inpatient medical facilities, intensive care and resuscitation departments
Georgia plans to test 6,000-8000 people daily for Covid-19 in autumn. The Government of Georgia has procured 147,000 rapid COVID-19 antibody and antigen test kits and 250,000 PCR tests with $80 million in support from the World Bank’s Emergency COVID-19 Response project. This will triple Georgia's testing capacity to 3,000 samples per day by mid-July.
From 2 August, mass testing is being conducted at the Eliava Market in Tbilisi's Didube District, one of the larger market areas in the capital, as pandemic prevention. NCDC workers were designated two rooms in the administrative offices of the market to set up testing facilities for about 500 samples a day from those trading at the market and send them for analysis.