Electric Bus becomes first Mobile Laboratory for COVID-19 PCR testing

Published on Thursday, 28 May 2020

  • As part of Enel’s “Elbow to Elbow” campaign, an alliance has been established between Enel, the Universidad Católica Faculty of Medicine, and the UC Christus Health Network, which will allow PCR sampling on site through the implementation of an electric bus that has been fully equipped as a mobile laboratory.


Santiago, May 28, 2020. An electric bus that has been fully equipped as a mobile laboratory has deployed to the districts of La Pintana and Puente Alto to support detection of COVID-19 cases and enhance PCR testing in areas where tests are hardest to obtain.

The mobile laboratory that first went into action in La Pintana District is fitted out with all equipment necessary for safe sampling, as it provides protection for its medical team who are in contact with persons who may test positive for the virus.

“This is one of the actions that we are implementing as a company, working alongside local governments, hospitals, and organizations that work tirelessly to combat the pandemic. We want to go and help the people who need it most, and it was vital to take action as quickly as possible. All of this is made possible through the work that we have been doing with communities for a long time, particularly in areas where the company does business,” said Enel Chile’s chairman Herman Chadwick.

The mobile laboratory – the first of its kind in Chile – was developed through innovative work by Enel X, in line with the health and safety requirements specified for clinicians of the UC Christus Health Network.

The laboratory bus features a seating area for transport of health personnel (2 nurses, 1 nursing technician, and 1 administrative staff member), access with a cabin featuring sanitary control, an administrative zone, 2 glove boxes for sampling, and a storage area, and also features Wi-Fi internet access.

Felipe Heusser, Dean of the UC Faculty of Medicine, explained that “the electric bus that Enel has now made available to the COVID-19 Hope project stands as proof of the efforts being made by the Universidad Católica, through our Faculty of Medicine and the UC CHRISTUS Health Network, and the private company, to combat this pandemic. Without a doubt, this is vital support for the project that we are implementing together with BHP, with the goal of very significantly increasing COVID-19 diagnostic capacity, so as to identify, isolate, and provide follow-up care to patients in the southwestern sector of the Metropolitan Region – specifically La Pintana and Puente Alto districts.”

The outside of the vehicle will also feature two boards to provide the right height for patients to have test samples taken.  

“We are living in complex times that require collaboration from everyone. The implementation of our 100% electric laboratory bus is a totally new initiative in Chile, both in terms of the vehicle’s characteristics and its implementation, and reaffirms our commitment to helping overcome this pandemic affecting our country and the world, incorporating electric transport for healthcare, while also helping care for the environment and reducing pollution in the city,” explained Karla Zapata, CEO of Enel X Chile.

The initial run of the mobile laboratory, made available by Kaufmann, will last for two months. It is expected to allow for 40 to 60 samples to be taken each day, in coordination with local health teams.

“At the Kaufmann Group, innovating and creating new and extraordinary transport solutions is seen as one of our responsibilities, particularly when we can benefit not only end users of this service bus also medical personnel, the public at large, and the environment.  This FOTON bus is a made-to-measure solution that offers zero local emissions and low noise levels, remaining friendly to the ecosystem,” said Cristián Contreras, electric transport manager at Kaufmann.

When a positive case is detected, the results are reported by telephone messaging both to the patient and to local health teams for suitable follow-up.

Together with the mobile laboratory, Enel made a donation of $150 million to the Universidad Católica earmarked for COVID-19 treatment, using a plasma bank from recovered patients. This initiative will use plasma from people who has generated an effective immune response to COVID-19, helping treat patients who are hospitalized with the disease.

About the Elbow to Elbow campaign

Enel Chile’s Elbow to Elbow campaign sets out to work alongside communities and institutions where the company operates, to collaborate on necessary solutions to strengthen vulnerable communities and health infrastructure. Enel Chile has invested around a billion in 27 initiatives in Chile, helping some 80,000 people – 10,000 with food support, and the rest with enhancements to health infrastructure. These actions include donation of two electric ambulances to the Red Cross and one to Tiltil Hospital, collaboration with the Luis Calvo Mackenna Children’s Hospital for a new pavilion, and work with the J.J. Aguirre Hospital. Other activities center on the network of partnership with Pequeño Cottolengo and Techo.