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HK works on speedy virus test

HONG Kong said it has assigned a team of scientists to develop a test designed to cut the time it takes to diagnose the new swine flu strain from a few days to a few hours.

Researchers in Hong Kong played a big role in discovering and determining how to treat SARS - a separate deadly virus that spread rapidly in 2003, killing more than 900 people.

Thomas Tsang, controller for Hong Kong's Center for Health Protection, said Monday that the government and local universities are jointly developing the rapid swine flu test using genetic information on the virus from the World Health Organization. Such data are shared with designated flu laboratories worldwide.

Dr Malik Peiris of Hong Kong University, one of the researchers and also the professor who discovered the SARS virus, said he expected the test to be ready within a week. "It's fairly clear cut," Peiris said. "We have done this many times with many other viruses ..."


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