The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will reportedly offer thousands of home testing kits for Seattle-area residents who suspect they may have a novel form of coronavirus.
The Seattle Times reported that the kits will become available this week, with a lab funded by the foundation initially set to test hundreds of kits per day and the possibility of expanding that testing to thousands per day in the future.
“Although there’s a lot to be worked out, this has enormous potential to turn the tide of the epidemic," Scott Dowell, the leader of the foundation's virus response team told the Times.
“One of the most important things from our perspective, having watched and worked on this in other parts of the world, is the identification of people who are positive for the virus, so they can be safely isolated and cared for, and the identification of their contacts, who can then be quarantined,” he added.
Test kits will be sent to the lab, which will share positive results with local health officials. Those officials will then notify users of the need to self-quarantine.
Sixteen deaths have been reported from the disease in Washington state, while more than 109,000 cases have been reported globally. The majority of deaths have been reported in China, where the virus is thought to have originated.