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LA Purchases 20K Coronavirus Test Kits From South Korean Company

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – Los Angeles city and county leaders announced Monday they have purchased 20,000 coronavirus testing kits from a South Korean biotech company.

The L.A. City Council and the L.A. Board of Supervisors jointly spent $1.25 million to immediately purchase 20,000 tests from Seegene Technologies, the two agencies said in a news release.

A larger contract is in the process of being negotiated to have Seegene deliver more tests. The company has committed to providing 100,000 tests per week to L.A. County, officials said. Seegene is the primary test kit manufacturer in South Korea, producing about one million test kits weekly, according to local officials.

The first 20,000 tests will be going to first responders and medical professionals.

There has been a major shortage across the nation as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention scrambles to get its own kits manufactured and distributed.

As of March 20, only 2,400 people in L.A. County had been tested. The county reported Monday it had a total of 536 coronavirus cases and seven deaths.

Testing for COVID-19 became available Monday through an online portal on the city of L.A.'s website. It's unclear how many tests the city has on hand, however.

The city said people who currently qualify for testing are seniors 65 years and older who have symptoms, those with symptoms and underlying chronic health conditions and those who are under quarantine becuse they were exposed to a COVID-19 patient.

People can schedule a test by visiting the following city website and answering a questionnaire. The testing is conducted at four sites.

Meanwhile, Riverside and Ventura counties have already begun drive-up testing.

RELATED: LA-Based Medical Operator Offering In-Home Coronavirus Testing

According to the CDC, COVID-19 — the disease caused by the coronavirus — is spread from person-to-person through close contact, usually within 6 feet, and mainly via respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

Symptoms include fever, cough and shortness of breath. People are likely most contagious when they are most symptomatic. Coronavirus can also be spread by touching contaminated surfaces and then touching your mouth, nose and eyes.

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