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Coronavirus

Tokyo airports adopt 1-hour coronavirus test, down from 2 days

Antigen saliva tests to double screening capacity for international arrivals

Tokyo's Haneda Airport will expand testing capacity to 3,800 people daily from 2,000. (Photo by Kei Higuchi)

TOKYO -- The two airports serving Tokyo have started conducting coronavirus antigen tests for international arrivals that produce results in about an hour, helping them roughly double testing capacity.

Haneda and Narita airports have relied solely on polymerase chain reaction genetic diagnostic tests to screen for the virus. The PCR test can take up to two days for results.

Not only do the antigen tests produce shorter wait times, samples can be taken from saliva as opposed to the invasive nasal swabs. Japan's health ministry, which instituted the new testing scheme, anticipates that the airports' screening capacity will improve.

"With the expansion of arrivals of international travelers, we will bring Haneda's testing capacity to 3,800 a day from 2,000 tests," said Health Minister Katsunobu Kato, who conducted an inspection tour of the airport Wednesday.

Narita will switch to mostly antigen tests in August. Kansai Airport near Osaka also will adopt antigen tests, raising the daily capacity at the three airports to 10,000 tests in September.

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