South Korea plans to send 600,000 coronavirus testing kits to the United States on Tuesday in the first such shipment following a request from U.S. President Donald Trump, a Seoul official told Reuters.
Trump made the request for testing kits in a telephone call on March 25 with President Moon Jae-in, as the United States was grappling with fast-growing outbreaks in many states.
A U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency cargo plane carrying the equipment is scheduled to leave at 10:30 p.m. (1330 GMT) on Tuesday, the official said, on condition of anonymity due to the diplomatic sensitivity of the issue.
The first shipments will be handed over to and paid for by the U.S. government, the official said.
An additional 150,000 kits will be exported in the near future and will be sold through an unspecified local retailer, the official said.
The polymerase chain reaction (PCR) kits will be sourced from three companies that secured preliminary approval late last month from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to export kits to the United States, the official said. He declined to name the two companies that will provide the shipments on Tuesday.
However, a person with direct knowledge of the matter said, on condition of anonymity, that one of the two firms is Osang Healthcare and the company will provide 300,000 kits.
South Korea’s foreign ministry said it did not have information to share immediately.