APAC / Issue Q2 2020 5 NEWS , Internet users to grow following coronavirus restrictions The data further places Europe in the second spot with 727 million users (15.9%) while Africa comes third with 522 million users (11.5%). Latin America Caribbean region is fourth with 453 million users (10.1%). In fifth place in North America with 327 million users (7.8%) followed by the Middle East at 175 million users (3.9%). Oceania and the Australian region account for the least global internet user globally at 29 million which represents 0.6%. According to the report: “Moving into the second quarter of 2020, global internet users might increase following the restrictions imposed due to the coronavirus pan- demic. The internet is now being used at a rate never experienced before.” On the other hand, North America ac- counts for the highest rate of internet penetration at 94.6%. Europe occupies the second slot with 87.2% while Latin America the Caribbean region comes third with a penetration rate of 70.5%. Middle East’s penetration stands at 69.2% followed by the Oceania and Australia region with a rate of 67.4%. Furthermore, the average internet penetration for Asia and Africa is below the world average of 58.7%. Asia’s penetration rate stands at 53.6% while Africa has 39.3%. Based on the data, there still exists a huge digital divide as over 3 billion people don’t have access to the in- ternet. Factors such as education, in- come levels, geographical restrictions, and digital literacy have been cited as the main reasons behind this divide INTEGRA, BioTools and Sullivan Nicolaides Pathology work together to accelerate COVID-19 testing. The global COVID-19 pandemic has placed unprecedented demands on pathology services to test patient samples for the novel SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus alongside their pre-existing respiratory virus panels. This extreme influx of samples quickly exhausted the capacity of existing systems in the Mi- crobiology and Molecular Pathology Department at Sullivan Nicolaides Pathology (SNP) – part of the Sonic Healthcare Group – in Brisbane, Australia, creating a clear need for additional automated liquid handling instruments. INTEGRA’s Australian distributor, BioTools Pty Ltd, has partnered with SNP to support COVID-19 test- ing using the ASSIST PLUS pipetting robot, helping the laboratory team to increase sample processing capacity and fast track COVID-19 assay development while reducing manual processing. Using the AS- SIST PLUS – in combination with a VOYAGER adjustable tip spacing pipette, Low Retention GripTips™ and SureFlo™ 10 ml Reagent Reservoirs – has enabled the lab to quickly develop and validate an automated pipetting protocol for PCR setup in low volume, 384 well plates. This miniaturization doubled the available testing capacity and simultaneously reduced consumption of expensive PCR reagents of dwindling availability, with associated cost savings. SNP successfully validated the automated protocol against its existing manual processing method, performed using a handheld electronic pipette. The results were shown to be reproducible, precise and accurate, with no contamination observed in either the control or patient samples. The compact, easy-to-use ASSIST PLUS pipetting robot, complete with validated protocol, was fully deployed within five working days to support COVID-19 testing of patient samples and alleviate pressure on staff time. Unprecedented Demands Data gathered by Learnbonds.com indicates that Asia now accounts for more than half of the global internet users. According to the data, the continent has 2.3 billion users representing 50.3%.