Roche Gives China Free Coronavirus Tests

The genetic test can check in the lab if one is infected with the new coronavirus.

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 4 — Pharmaceutical giant Roche is providing China free rapid tests to detect a novel coronavirus that has been declared a global health emergency.

The Swiss pharmaceutical company said the genetic test can check in the laboratory whether a patient is infected with the new strain of coronavirus dubbed 2019-nCoV.

“The contribution you can make in such a crisis ultimately pays off a lot more,” Roche CEO Dr Severin Schwan was quoted telling German news outlet Handelsblatt.

Such devices are reportedly available in other countries as well.

Dr Schwan also said there were no bottlenecks in the production of the coronavirus tests despite high demand, although logistical problems remained due to the lockdown of several cities in China amid the coronavirus outbreak. Roche must also guarantee protection of its staff.

“Such challenges are not new to us,” Dr Schwan was quoted saying, citing experience with the previous 2002-03 SARS outbreak.

Over 17,000 people across China have been infected with 2019-nCoV, with the death toll rising to at least 361 yesterday. Over the weekend, the Philippines reported a death from the SARS-like virus, the first country outside China to confirm a 2019-nCoV fatality.

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