February 27, 2020 / 3:46 PM / a month ago

U.S. health secretary says at least 40 labs can currently test for coronavirus

U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar gives a news conference on the coronavirus outbreak next to President Donald Trump at the White House in Washington, U.S., February 26, 2020. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar on Thursday said that at least 40 public health labs can currently test specimens for coronavirus and that could more than double as soon as tomorrow.

Azar, speaking before the House Ways and Means Committee, said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had tested 3,625 specimens for the fast-moving virus as of this morning. He said at least 40 labs currently have test kits that were previously manufactured by the CDC that were modified to test for coronavirus.

He said a newly manufactured CDC test can be sent to 93 public health labs as soon as Monday, and a privately manufactured test based on the new CDC test could be sent to those same labs as early as tomorrow, pending FDA clearance.

Reporting by Michael Erman; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama

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