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Coronavirus testing gaps put Asian governments under microscope

Fear of overwhelming health systems prevents wider screening outside South Korea

One of South Korea's drive-thru testing centers: Asian countries have taken dramatically different approaches to screening for the coronavirus.   © Reuters

TOKYO -- After a slow start, Japan has stepped up its response to the new coronavirus over the past two weeks. But health officials are still being asked the same question at their weekly briefings: Why is South Korea testing more people?

The Northeast Asian neighbors are not the only ones with a big gap in testing rates. Across the region and around the globe, authorities have adopted a range of strategies for screening their populations. There are myriad factors involved: experience with epidemics, health care resources, types of tests available, bureaucratic bottlenecks and government guidance.

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