U.S. health officials seek emergency approval to use diagnostic test for new coronavirus

(Reuters) - The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Thursday it is seeking special emergency authorization from the Food and Drug Administration to allow U.S. states to use a CDC-developed diagnostic test to detect the new coronavirus from China.

Currently, states with suspected cases of the new virus must send samples to the CDC for confirmation, as was the case with the U.S. resident in Washington state who was infected while visiting Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the outbreak.

China has put millions of people on lockdown in Wuhan and another nearby city as authorities around the world worked to prevent the virus’s global spread.

Emergency Use Authorization from the FDA would allow states to use the CDC’s test, according to CDC spokesman Benjamin Haynes.

At least 16 people had close contact with the Washington state man diagnosed with the first U.S. case of the virus. None of them so far have shown signs of the virus, according to local health officials.

The World Health Organization on Thursday stopped short of declaring the new virus a global health emergency. So far, the virus has killed 18 people and sickened nearly 650, the vast majority of them in China.

Reporting by Ankur Banerjee in Bengaluru and Julie Steenhuysen in Chicago; Editing by Arun Koyyur and Bill Berkrot