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Novacyt shares jump 32% on launch of coronavirus test

Key Points
  • Novacyt has launched a diagnostic test for the new strain of coronavirus, which originated in Wuhan and has spread worldwide, leading the World Health Organization (WHO) to declare a global health emergency.
Hospital workers wearing protective eyewear and masks prepare to check blood tests taken from Indonesian students who returned from China in quarantine at a hospital in Banda Aceh on January 29, 2020.
Chaideer Mahyuddin | AFP | Getty Images

Novacyt stock soared 32% on Friday morning after the French cellular diagnostics company announced the launch of a new test for the coronavirus.

The test has been developed as a direct response to the recent outbreak of the new strain of coronavirus, which originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan and has now spread worldwide, leading the World Health Organization (WHO) to declare a global health emergency.

The death toll has now hit 213 with confirmed cases rising to 9,692, according to Chinese health officials. Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that usually infect animals but can sometimes evolve and spread to humans. The new test is able to detect only the 2019 strain of the virus, reducing the risk of a false diagnosis, the company said in a statement.

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Coronavirus declared public health emergency by World Health Organization

The test, generated by the company's Primerdesign molecular diagnostics team, can also generate a result in less than two hours, enabling samples to be screened quickly, which the company says could help prevent the "unnecessary" spread of the virus.

This week, more than 6,000 tourists were held on an Italian cruise ship after a woman broke out in a fever on board, but eventually tested negative for the coronavirus after samples were taken to a hospital in Rome.

In a statement Friday, Novacyt CEO Graham Mullis said the company believed this to be the first European test to be made available and had seen significant early demand from over 10 countries. The test will be introduced this weekend at the Medlab Expo in Dubai.

"I am immensely proud of the Primerdesign team which has been able to offer this rapid response for our customers who need fast and reliable diagnostic solutions in times such as these," Mullis said.