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Asia Minute: New Coronavirus Test on Board Asian Flight

AP Photo/Achmad Ibrahim

Hawaii is a week away from welcoming tourists who undergo pre-travel testing. And the race is on to develop faster ways to reliably detect the coronavirus. Local company Oceanit has been working on a rapid test using saliva, and trials are underway for other tests.

You’re going to be hearing a lot more about new kinds of tests for COVID-19, especially those that can be done rapidly at places like airports. This is crucial for travel destinations — quick and reliable indicators that can rule out the presence of the virus.

One of those new tests is being evaluated this week in Southeast Asia.

Earlier today, a Cathay Pacific Airways flight from Hong Kong to Singapore carried crew members who volunteered for a new kind of COVID test. It’s been developed by a Hong Kong based company called Prenetics — whose investors range from Chinese billionaire Jack Ma of the e-commerce firm Alibiba to venture capital funds based in Indonesia, Hong Kong, Singapore and San Francisco.

Prenetics owns the largest private laboratory in Hong Kong, but its latest news release was a little short on details about the specific testing protocols.

Hong Kong officials are working on developing faster tests that will help them form travel bubbles with particular locations — including Singapore. One of the challenges: international logistics – reaching some agreement on the types of tests that will be accepted by each location, as well as who does the tests.

Initial findings from this trial run are expected in about a week.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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