Tokyo drugstores begin selling COVID test kits

Drugstores in Tokyo have begun selling coronavirus antigen test kits, which produce test results in about 15 to 30 minutes.

Japan's health ministry last week approved the sale of the test kits at drugstores so that people can test themselves at home.

The ministry previously only allowed the use of government-authorized kits at medical institutions.

A pharmacy in western Tokyo received a package of testing materials on Friday morning. Shop clerks prepared the swabs and reagent that come in the kits for sale. They put up a notice making customers aware that the test kits are now available for purchase.

Before they can take home a kit, customers must listen to an explanation from a pharmacist on how to take samples from the nose correctly. They are told of the possibility that the test may not produce a positive result for infected people if the volume of virus in a sample is insufficient.

An official from the firm that makes the kits briefed the pharmacists at the drugstore beforehand.

A customer in his 40s said it's good to be able to buy antigen test kits at a nearby store, while pointing out that it's important to continue anti-virus measures, including wearing a face mask.

A pharmacist said that the store is prepared to refer customers to a medical institution if they test positive. She said she hopes to help local residents get smooth access to medical care.