The new test has been developed by the molecular diagnostics company Cepheid and should be rolled out by the beginning of this week. It will allow hospitals and clinics to carry out tests and confirm diagnosis of infection on-site , without the need to send samples to a dedicated diagnostics laboratory. The molecular based test allows for a high degree of accuracy and uses the company’s GeneXpert machine to produce results on-site.
The diagnostics kit is the size of an inkjet printer cartridge and comes in a box the size of an inkjet printer.
The test was granted special “emergency use authorization” by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
The California based company already produces tests for flu with high reliability rates.
The company said that around 23,000 of its GeneXpert micro-labs are already in use around the world, with around 5,000 of those located in the US.
Donald Trump has come under severe criticism for his administration’s failure to carry out a comprehensive screening programme.
Testing for the coronavirus is seen as vital for bringing the epidemic under control by identifying and isolating those infected as soon as possible.
South Korea has led the way, testing over 300,000 of its citizens for COVID-19, a fact which many medical experts believe has been critical to their success in suppressing transmission of the virus.
The US has currently tested just over 100,000 people and lags behind Germany, Russia and Australia.
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It comes as the number of coronavirus cases surged above 33,000 in the US, with a total of 417 deaths.
New York has now become the epicentre of the epidemic, accounting for half of the country’s total number of infections.
On Sunday, the state governor, Andrew Cuomo, introduced new measures to reinforce the current lockdown.
As of 8pm Sunday evening, the governor ordered the city’s residents to stay indoors. This follows his order on Friday for all non-essential businesses to shut down for the foreseeable future.
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Mr Cuomo warned that up to 80 percent of his state’s population of almost 20 million people was at risk of contracting the virus.
New York’s mayor, Bill de Balsio, appealed to President Trump to do more to help.
In an interview with CNN, he said: “It feels like we are on our own. We have seen next to nothing from the federal government at this point.”
Mr Trump insisted at a press conference at the White House, that his administration was doing everything it could to assist the worst affected states in their fight against the virus.
He reeled off numbers and lists of equipment he said had been ordered for the three worst-hit states, New York, Washington and California, and others.
He also claimed the US government would be funding “100%” of the costs of national guard deployment to assist in the supply chain, and said he had approved major disaster declarations for New York and Washington states.
In addition, he promised that the army corps of engineers would be available for the construction of field hospitals providing thousands of new beds.
“Whatever the states can get, they should be getting,” the president said.
“There’s sort of a back up for the states, and some of the states are doing really well and some don’t do as well. The ones that don’t do as well need more help. But these are three states that really do need help because they are hit really hard.”
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