Over 100 countries ask South Korea for coronavirus testing help

South Korea’s massive testing campaign, backed by intensive contact tracing, has been credited with helping slow the spread of coronavirus in the country, which once had the second-largest outbreak after China.

“We’re getting so many requests from various countries as we have built experience from the early outbreak. The number, which is now 121 countries, is rising by the day,” the official said asking not to be named citing diplomatic sensitivity.

South Korea has set up a task force to determine how it can offer assistance, either with exports of kits or other humanitarian aid, the ministry official said.

The official did not name the countries but South Korean test kit makers have contracts to supply U.S. states and countries including Italy.

Last week, U.S. President Donald Trump asked his Korean counterpart to supply medical devices and promised to help Korean firms gain U.S. regulatory approval.

South Korean biotech firms that supply the kits have expanded production capacity to meet the surge in demand. Shares in some of the leading companies have nearly tripled since the start of the year.

South Korea is also analyzing coronavirus tests from Finnish healthcare provider Mehilainen, which is set to fly 18,000 samples to the country over the next two weeks, the company and a South Korean public health official said.

Mehilainen, whose clients include some of Finland’s largest companies, said it was cooperating with a South Korean laboratory and flying the samples on Finnair charter flights.

“Know-how in South Korea is high-grade and there is the capacity for testing,” Mehilainen said in a statement.

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