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47 countries ask about coronavirus test kits, 39 call for humanitarian aid: official

(Yonhap)
(Yonhap)

A total of 47 countries have asked about importing South Korean-made coronavirus test kits while an additional 39 countries requested the kits as humanitarian aid, a foreign ministry official said Wednesday.

Such calls have been rising as Seoul has recently been garnering global recognition for its diagnostic capabilities, quarantine efforts and medical infrastructure that have led to a relatively low fatality rate despite an increase in new COVID-19 cases.

"As of today, 47 countries asked about or made requests for importing test kits," the official told reporters on condition of anonymity.

The government has so far helped the United Arab Emirates to purchase 51,000 sampling kits used in coronavirus tests, and Romania and Colombia import 20,000 and 50,000 diagnostic kits, respectively.

As for the 39 countries that have called for humanitarian aid, Seoul has been carrying out internal discussions, the official said, noting any shipments should not create domestic shortages of medical supplies.

"Related government agencies have been in close consultations to set priorities, as it is difficult to accede to all of the requests," the official said.

"We will also take into account the strategic importance of our decisions," he added.

During telephone talks with President Moon Jae-in on Tuesday, US President Donald Trump also voiced hope that South Korea could provide medical equipment support, amid the rapid spread of the virus in the US. (Yonhap)
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