The Kanagawa Prefectural Institute of Public Health and the government-affiliated research institute Riken said Thursday that they have developed a technology that can detect the COVID-19 coronavirus in only 10 to 30 minutes.

Kanagawa Gov. Yuji Kuroiwa told a news conference the same day that he will seek special state support so that the new technology, which is still in the research phase, can be used widely.

The polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test method, which is widely used at present, takes one to two hours for results to become available.

The newly developed technology is at least on par with PCR in terms of accuracy, according to the prefectural institute and Riken.

The institutes confirmed the validity of the new method using COVID-19 samples collected from people who were on the Diamond Princess cruise ship quarantined off Yokohama. Hundreds of people aboard the ship have been found infected with the virus.

The institutes will conduct further research on the technology as regulatory approval will be required before the testing method can be put it into practical use.

“We’ve taken a step toward practical use” although the work is still in an early stage, said Kengo Usui, who leads Riken’s unit developing the new technology.

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