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Rapid COVID-19 testing coming to Aust

Chinas coronavirus death toll up to 563

Pinprick blood tests that detect COVID-19 in just minutes are coming to Australia within days.

Melbourne diagnostic company Endo X and ASX-listed biotech company Cellmid are among several companies that have signed import agreements with Chinese manufacturers to deliver rapid COVID-19 tests into Australia.

Cellmid says its testing kits from Guangzhou Wondfo Biotech Co only require the "most basic of laboratory equipment" and just involve a finger prick, delivering results in three minutes for positive results and up to 15 minutes for negative ones.

Cellmid described the tests as a "small disposable kit" that is stable at room temperature for a year and could easily be used in mobile testing centres.

Endo X meanwhile is bringing in 500,000 similar blood tests from VivaCheck Biotech (Hangzhou) Co Ltd, and says they will go to hospitals, GP clinics, pathology centres and testing centres this week.

Both tests look for antibodies in a few drops of blood and are much quicker and less expensive than the polymerase chain reaction (PRC) tests that use nasal swabs and take days to deliver results.

Endo X says its VivaCheck test is 94.6 per cent accurate from four to 10 days of the patient developing symptoms and 99.3 per cent accurate after 11 to 24 days.

Sydney-based Complete Corporate Wellness has also begun offering companies and organisations rapid testing conducted onsite by their medical professionals.

Director Debra Villar said the tests are right now aimed at essential businesses such as manufacturers and construction companies that still have employees on-site.

The pinprick tests are made by USA company CTK Biotech and similarly return results in about 15 minutes.

Up to three people can be tested per hour, with strict hygiene and infection control protocols in place.

The tests could be used more widely once the lockdowns are lifted, she said.

"When everyone does return to work, obviously you want to know you're doing it in a way that's safe," Ms Villar said.

Australia's Therapeutic Goods Administration has approved 14 different COVID-19 tests, both laboratory-based and point-of-care, according to its website.

So far there are no tests that allow consumers to test themselves directly, however.

© AAP 2020

Tags: Coronavirus