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Test to detect novel coronavirus available in New Zealand

ESR has confirmed that a novel coronavirus diagnostic test is now available in New Zealand and testing can begin from today.

The diagnostic testing service will accept respiratory samples from all suspected cases that meet the most recent Ministry of Health case definition and other cases where a precautionary approach is appropriate.

The Ministry of Health is providing health advice on its novel coronavirus webpage on how to prevent acute respiratory illness and what to do if feeling unwell. If you feel unwell with a fever, cough or difficulty breathing please telephone Healthline (for free) on 0800 611 116.

ESR clinical virologist Erasmus Smit says the process of creating this test requires a high-level of collaboration.

"Setting up such tests involves collaboration across borders, organisations, laboratories and dedicated professionals working extremely hard," says Dr Smit.

"To develop this test we had to source the right tools and material from overseas in a time of high demand and then validate the test locally through numerous experiments to ensure the quality of the result."

The test will be performed daily and results can be expected within 24 hours of the sample being received.

The test is based on a validated method which is widely used by many other national reference laboratories across the world.

ESR will also offer support to other laboratories when developing their own testing capabilities.

For information on the virus and response please visit the Ministry of Health Website.

The Ministry is committed to ensuring the public is notified of any positive results.

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