A Magen David Adom pilot program for a 15-minute coronavirus test was launched in the central Israeli city of Lod on Wednesday with Israeli Health Minister Yuli Edelstein and Deputy Health Minister Yoav Kisch in attendance.

Quidel’s Sofia 2 antigen test for rapid detection of COVID-19 has been granted emergency approval by the FDA, and is being administered in Israel alongside the regular test to check its reliability.

Edelstein said at the event that the government has succeeded in raising the daily testing rate more than 30,000 during the past week, but would continue to explore ways to further expedite the process.

“We are working tirelessly to acquire the latest technologies that will help us in the fight against coronavirus, the pilot program that took place today is one of the initiatives,” said Edelstein.

“The great advantage of this system is that it is already in the field and can undertake 40 tests per hour. It can also be used in nursing homes and other sensitive places,” said Kisch.

While Israel seemed to have gotten the coronavirus pandemic under control following country-wide lockdowns in March and April, the infection rate quickly began to surge once the economy was reopened and in recent days has been nearing 2,000 new cases a day.

Edelstein said following a meeting of top officials on Tuesday that unless the trend reverses within the next few days, which he said was highly unlikely to happen, “there would be no option but to declare a full shutdown.”

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