Coronavirus News Asia

Test kits pour off South Korean production line

Every few seconds, a batch of white plastic cases shoots along a conveyor belt in a South Korean factory – coronavirus test kits destined for export around the world as the global pandemic sends demand soaring.

SD Biosensor is one of five South Korean companies whose Covid-19 diagnostic tests are being used in the country, where a huge “trace, test and treat” effort appears to have brought the epidemic under control.

The factory on a nondescript industrial estate in Cheongju, south of Seoul, is ramping up production of kits that could be crucial to the world’s anti-virus efforts.

It is now making 350,000 tests a day – almost as many as the South has used in the entire outbreak so far – up from 20,000 in January.

And managers plan to start 24-hour operations next month, taking daily output to more than a million.

“Treatment for the virus begins with accurate diagnosis,” said company vice-president Park June.

“I have been in the diagnostic industry for 35 years and never I have felt such a strong spotlight on our work,” he added.

The company is already exporting to eight countries including Germany, Iran, India and Italy, and is in discussions with about 60 more, led by the United States – which has now confirmed more cases than anywhere else in the world.

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