Shimadzu Corp. is aiming to develop a one-hour test for the new coronavirus to slash testing times as long as six hours by the end of the month.

The new method will minimize both the time and cost required for COVID-19 screenings, according to the precision equipment maker, which plans to produce around 50,000 kits per month. The new method uses a reagent typically used to screen for norovirus.

One test being used to detect the novel coronavirus is the polymerase chain reaction test (PCR), which requires a throat swab and takes around six hours and a specialized machine to get results. Other tests take only two hours.

Shimadzu's method is a PCR variant that skips the procedure for taking DNA from the virus to minimize the analysis time, it said.

"With the number of people screened for the virus growing, we have received inquiries from testing companies about the development of a faster testing method," one of the officials in charge of developing the kit said Wednesday at a news conference in Kyoto.

"We will endeavor to commercialize the test kit as soon as possible," the official said.

Research facilities and pharmaceutical companies are stepping up efforts to find new testing methods as the pneumonia-causing virus from China spreads around the world.

Kanagawa Prefecture and government-backed research institute Riken said last Thursday they had jointly developed a testing method that can get results within 30 minutes.