KYOTO -- Japanese precision instruments maker Shimadzu begins conducting coronavirus tests Tuesday for people who need proof of negative results to travel overseas, as countries reopen their doors to foreign travelers.
The company will check saliva samples collected by a Kyoto clinic and sent to specialized facilities. The polymerase chain reaction test can be completed in as little as an hour, and patients who have a sample submitted by 11 a.m. can receive their results that evening. Shimadzu says it can process up to 150 tests daily.
Because testing in the absence of symptoms is not covered by Japan's national insurance, such individuals will need to pay about 40,000 yen ($373) per test.
Shimadzu started handling coronavirus tests under public insurance in early June after receiving the green light from the Kyoto municipal government. With infections in Japan down from their peak, the company looks to use its spare capacity to meet growing demand from travelers.
Proof of a negative COVID-19 test is required by many countries that have recently begun relaxing travel bans, such as Vietnam. Major companies that specialize in testing reportedly now handle coronavirus screening on a private basis.
PCR testing requires specialized equipment and trained medical professionals to interpret the results. A medical institution is needed to issue certificates proving virus-free status for patients.
Besides demand for international travel, some businesses also seek to have employees screened to facilitate domestic trips, a Nikkei survey found. Rising demand for coronavirus tests means that lowering barriers such as cost and red tape will become increasingly important.