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South Korea sending COVID-19 test kits to U.S.

By Nam Gyeong-sik, UPI News Korea
South Korea sending COVID-19 test kits to U.S.
These COVID-19 diagnostic kits were made in South Korea. Photo courtesy of the South Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs

SEOUL, April 14 (UPI) -- South Korea will ship test kits for the COVID-19 coronavirus to the United States this week, a foreign ministry official said.

The shipment follows a request from U.S. President Donald Trump during a phone call with South Korean President Moon Jae-in on March 25. Two days later, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration gave interim approval to Korean products.

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The foreign ministry official said Monday that a cargo flight will deliver diagnostic kits created by two Korean companies on Tuesday, while a third firm will export test kits through its own agency based in the United States.

The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the countries agreed not to disclose the quantities of tests being delivered.

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While COVID-19 spread fast across the globe over the past few months, much of the Western world -- including the United States -- struggled to secure sufficient detection kits.

South Korea managed to roll out enough diagnostic reagents because multiple companies began manufacturing them as early as January. The country has tested more than 527,000 people, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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South Korea is capable of churning out about 1 million kits a week. Based on the capacity, it tested almost 20,000 people every day at the height of the domestic outbreak in late February and early March.

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The number of tests per day has dipped to around 5,000 as new confirmed infection cases plunged to fewer than 50 per day in the last week.

More than 120 governments have reached out to Seoul asking to provide made-in-Korea assay kits, according to the foreign ministry.

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