April 23, 2021 13:25
The Ministry of Food and Drug Safety on Friday approved the emergency use of two coronavirus home test kits made by Korean manufacturers.
The ministry is in the final stage of reviewing the home test kits, with final approval for general use expected in three months' time. They have already been approved in Austria, Germany, Switzerland and the U.S.
The process of testing from a swab takes about 30 minutes, much quicker than polymerize chain reaction (PCR) tests in hospitals that take about six hours, but the results are less accurate.
As with a home pregnancy test, people who test positive then need to go to a hospital for confirmation.
Health authorities advise only people with no symptoms to use the home test kits, which cost about W8,000 (US$1=W1,118). This will likely help detect possible COVID-19 carriers early and prevent the spread.
They will be used first at high-risk facilities for the elderly or handicapped as well as call centers and dormitories.
Expert opinions are divided. Prof. Chun Eun-mi of Ewha Womans University Mokdong Hospital said studies show that it is best to test twice with an interval of 24 to 36 hours.
But Prof. Kim Woo-joo of Korea University said, "There are worries that patients could spread the virus if they put too much trust in their negative results and start going out and about."
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