REGINA -- Amanda Lang expected to see a global pandemic during her career as a clinical microbiologist and has been working on the frontline of Saskatchewan’s fight against COVID-19.

"I can’t say that it wasn’t a little bit exciting, it’s the thing I’ve prepared for, the reason I chose this path was for situations like this," said Lang, who is the Director of Virology at the Roy Romanow Provincial Laboratory.

The work being done at the RRPL in Regina has been integral to Saskatchewan’s management of the pandemic. The microbiologists at the lab have been working non-stop since before the virus arrived in the province

"It all started when in December we had that initial report out of Wuhan of an unknown pneumonia and all the microbiologists across the country had their ears sort of peaked by that," Lang said.

The provincial lab kicked into high gear in February as the virus started to spread across the globe to ensure they were prepared, which included building assays, something Lang says is difficult for a new virus.

"The first thing you need is a sequence of the virus, so that’s the genetic makeup so we can design an assay to detect it," she said.

"It’s not as cut and dry as something like influenza where all the assays are already established and you have gold standards."

Staff from all departments at the lab were pulled in to help deal with the workload from the pandemic.

The lab processed between 800-1,000 tests per day during the peak and are still dealing with up to 400 per day now.

A recent study by the Journal of Clinical Virology found the RRPL to be the second most effective at detecting COVID-19 out of the 17 facilities in nine provinces that participated in the study.

"That was pretty exciting," Lang said. "The differences between all the labs in Canada weren’t that large, so we know that everybody is doing a really effective job across the country, but it’s still a point of pride to say that we’re number two with analytical sensitivity."

The Minister of Health commended the work being done at the RRPL.

"Kudos to them," Minister Jim Reiter said. "They’ve been doing just incredible work these last few months and it’s nice to see them recognized."

The workload at the lab has slowed down over the past month with lower case numbers and less tests being performed in Saskatchewan. However, Lang says they’re prepared for any rise in cases that might come with a second wave with the capacity to process up to 2,000 tests per day.