VIENNA, March 9 (Xinhua) -- The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will provide training and equipment to members in the fight against the novel coronavirus, said its director general at a meeting here Monday.
The IAEA is not a specialized health agency and has no role in controlling the disease, but it does have expertise and experience that help in detecting outbreaks of certain viral diseases and diagnosing them, said Rafael Mariano Grossi to a meeting of the board of governors.
"We have been in constant contact with the World Health Organisation and other key partners to assess the current level of knowledge about COVID-19, identify gaps and work to accelerate and fund priority research," he said.
The director general told the board that so far the IAEA had received official requests for support from six countries in Africa, five in the Asia and Pacific region and three in Latin America.
Scientists from countries concerned will be offered training in a nuclear-derived technique known as RT-PCR, which makes it possible to identify the virus accurately within hours, he said.
The first training course will take place at IAEA's Seibersdorf laboratories in Austria in a few weeks' time, and the agency plans to provide RT-PCR machines and biosafety equipment to ensure safe handling of samples, he said.
Funding received under the Peaceful Uses Initiative, a program mobilizing extrabudgetary contributions from members, will enable the agency to promptly provide equipment and materials, he added.