Seoul demands swift approval coronavirus self-testing kits

People wait in line for a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) test at a testing site which is temporarily set up at a railway station in Seoul, South Korea

The new mayor of South Korea’s capital demanded swift approval of coronavirus self-testing kits, saying that his city urgently needs more tools to fight the pandemic and keep struggling businesses open.

Oh Se-hoon spoke Monday as Seoul, the southern port city of Busan and nearby metropolitan towns shut down high-risk entertainment venues to slow transmissions.

The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency said 350 of the country’s 587 new cases were from the greater Seoul area.

Oh Se-hoon said self-testing kits could be sold at pharmacies or supermarkets and produce results within 30 minutes, which would allow businesses more freedom to operate safely.

Kwon Jun-wook, director of South Korea’s National Health Institute, said earlier this month that authorities are reviewing whether to approve rapid home tests, but the review has proceeded slowly. Some experts say such tests would do more harm than good because they are less accurate than standard laboratory tests.

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