New York City to manufacture thousands of virus test kits

New York (AFP) –


New York will start making tens of thousands of coronavirus test kits a week, its mayor announced Tuesday, as the city looks to boost testing capacity with a view to ending its shutdown.

Bill de Blasio said manufacturers in the Big Apple would start producing 50,000 tests per week beginning next month because they are not receiving enough kits from federal agencies.

The city will also start buying another 50,000 kits from a company in Indiana beginning Monday, he added, meaning New York will soon have 100,000 new tests a week.

"For the first time, we're going to have a truly reliable major supply of testing," de Blasio told reporters.

Increased testing is seen as essential to New York being able to reopen its shuttered economy following a weeks-long lockdown.

It will help isolate the virus, with infection rates expected to rise as businesses and schools gradually reopen.

More than 7,300 people have already died in New York City, according to Johns Hopkins University, out of more than 10,000 deaths statewide.

Governor Andrew Cuomo and his counterparts from five neighboring states are currently trying to figure out how to end the lockdown without worsening the outbreak.

Both de Blasio and Cuomo have criticized President Donald Trump's administration for failing to provide states with enough tests.

De Blasio said the government must increase testing capacity despite New York City's plans to make its own kits.

"This does not let the federal government off the hook," he said.

Cuomo called on the Federal Emergency Management Agency to take control of tests so local officials can stop bidding with each other for kits.

"I want to get out of the eBay competition business for vital medical equipment, and now vital testing," he told reporters.