South Korea's health authorities said Friday that it completed the development of a PCR diagnostic reagent, which can rapidly identify the Omicron COVID-19 variant.
The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said in a statement that the new reagent will be able to identify five major COVID-19 variants, including the Alpha, Beta, Gamma and Delta variants as well as the Omicron variant and its "stealth" version.
The KDCA said South Korea would be the first country in the world to identify the five major variants with single PCR analysis.
"After a person has been confirmed to have been infected with COVID-19, with the current genomic sequencing, it took three to five days to determine whether the confirmed case has been infected with the Omicron variant," said KDCA Commissioner Jeong Eun-kyeong.
"With the supply of the new PCR reagent that can rapidly detect the Omicron variant, we are now able to see the analysis results within three to four hours after a person has been infected," Jeong noted.
The reagents will be supplied to five regional centers for disease control and prevention and 18 research institutes of public health and environment by Dec. 29.