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Coronavirus

The New Mayor of Seoul Demands Swift Approval of COVID Self-Testing Kits

SEOUL, South Korea — The new mayor of South Korea’s capital demanded swift approval of coronavirus self-testing kits, saying that his city urgently needs more tools to fight the pandemic and keep struggling businesses open.

Oh Se-hoon spoke Monday as Seoul and nearby metropolitan towns shut down hostess bars, night clubs and other high-risk entertainment venues to slow transmissions. Similar businesses were also shut down in the southern port city of Busan.

The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency said 350 of the country’s 587 new cases were from the greater Seoul area.

The conservative Oh took office upon winning a by-election last week. He used a news conference to criticize the national liberal government’s anti-virus campaign, which he said was failing to slow infections while also hurting businesses and livelihoods.

He said self-testing kits could be sold at pharmacies or supermarkets and produce results within 30 minutes, which would allow businesses more freedom to operate safely.

Kwon Jun-wook, director of South Korea’s National Health Institute, said earlier this month that authorities are reviewing whether to approve rapid home tests as they explore ways to cast a wider net to detect virus carriers with no or mild symptoms.

But the review has proceeded slowly with some experts saying such tests would do more harm than good because they are less accurate than standard laboratory tests.

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