The new test targets genes specific to both SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, and the flu virus, and is a version of polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test, a molecular diagnostic testing technique used to identify viral genetic material and confirm infections.
The two viruses cause similar symptoms, and so being able to get diagnoses for both diseases in three to six hours “would be convenient for patients and also reduce the burden of medical workers,” senior South Korean Health Ministry official Yoon Taeho said during a virus briefing this week, AP reported.
South Korea has been unable to completely curb the spread of COVID-19, with the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency on Wednesday reporting 118 new cases of the virus in the Seoul metropolitan area.
The country’s number of cases has reached 26,925, with 474 COVID-19-related deaths, AP reported.
"Despite efforts by health authorities to trace contacts and suppress transmissions, such efforts have been outpaced by the speed of viral spread," Yoon said.
In the US, health officials have been reporting that some patients have become infected with COVID-19 and the seasonal flu at the same time. Officials have been urging people to get their flu vaccinations as soon as possible.