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Korean convenience stores start selling Covid-19 self-testing kits

Coronavirus self-test kits became available in supermarkets and convenience stores across the country Thursday as South Korea is seeking to step up its testing capacity with no letup of new virus cases in sight.

Self-test kits by two local drugmakers — Humasis Inc. and SD Biosensor Co. — have been sold at local pharmacies after receiving approval for emergency use last month, and they have hit shelves of supermarkets and convenience stores to provide easier access to the public.

GS25, a convenience store chain, on Wednesday started sales of test kits by Humasis and SD Biosensor at some of its stores, and its rival 7-Eleven said it will begin sales Friday.

E-Mart, the nation’s largest discount store chain, said its major outlets in Seoul began to offer Humasis’ test kits earlier in the day and will distribute more in other stores.

CJ Olive Young, a major health and beauty store chain, said it will sell Humasis’ kits starting Friday at offline stores and on its online channel, with a parcel delivery service available.

A growing number of new cases has prompted the nation’s health authority to approve the use of the at-home virus tests to detect patients at an early stage.

Users can collect samples from their noses on their own for testing, and the results come out within 15-30 minutes.

If users receive a positive result from the self-test, they are required to visit screening stations to undergo preemptive polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests to get a more accurate result.

On Thursday, the country reported 574 more COVID-19 cases, raising the total caseload to 125,519, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency said.


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