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(LEAD) Gov't to decide on conditional approvals of 2 virus self-test kits: acting PM

Politics 11:21 April 23, 2021

(ATTN: UPDATES with more comments from para 7)

SEOUL, April 23 (Yonhap) -- Health authorities plan to decide Friday whether to conditionally approve the use of two types of COVID-19 self-test kits, acting Prime Minister Hong Nam-ki said, as the country aims to further boost its testing capacity.

"Unless there are unexpected events, the government will decide on the conditional approvals of two self-test kits to allow their temporary use before official approvals," Hong said during a daily interagency meeting on the coronavirus response.

The results will be announced by the food and drug safety ministry later in the day, Hong said.

Acting Prime Minister Hong Nam-ki presides over a daily interagency meeting on South Korea's COVID-19 response at the government complex in Seoul on April 23, 2021. (Yonhap)

Hong stressed that self-test kits should be used as supplementary tools, citing that results from such at-home kits fall short in accuracy when compared to the preemptive polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests used at state and local centers.

South Korea is looking to increase its virus testing capacity amid a recent surge in new daily cases. The average daily number of cases stayed above 600 in the past week on rising cluster infections across the nation, with figures above 700 since Wednesday.

Hong stated that the government plans to proactively support the developments of self-test kit to expand the opportunity for people to be tested for COVID-19 at home hassle free.

In a separate meeting on the government's vaccine campaign, Hong said authorities so far have not reported a single case of delay in scheduled vaccine shipments from overseas manufacturers.

The comments were apparently made to ease public concerns over what is perceived as the government's slow rollout of the national vaccination campaign and the intensifying of the global competition to secure vaccines.

Hong also explained that the government has seen substantial progress in talks with some vaccine manufacturers over provisions of additional supplies.

The country's vaccinations topped 2 million Thursday, around two months after its inoculation campaign began in late February.

A medical worker takes a sample at a COVID-19 testing station in Seoul on April 22, 2021, with the country reporting 735 new cases on the day, the highest since Jan. 7, when the comparable number was 869. (Yonhap)


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