[Photo courtesy of Kurabo Industries Ltd.]

Textile and chemical product maker Kurabo Industries Ltd. said Thursday it will import and sell in Japan from next week test kits developed by a Chinese firm that can detect new coronavirus in 15 minutes, far shorter than the current method.

The kit, using a small blood sample and a reagent, is expected to reduce time and costs from the polymerase chain reaction test now widely used to detect the pneumonia-causing disease, which takes several hours before results are shown, according to the maker.

The kit, developed by the company's business partner in China and will be put on sale on Monday, is also effective in detecting the virus in patients in early stages of the disease, unlike the current PCR tests, it said.

Kurabo plans to sell the kits to research and testing institutions. One kit capable of testing 10 samples is priced at 25,000 yen ($240), excluding tax.

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With the number of people screened for the virus growing, the demand for swifter testing is also increasing, prompting research facilities and pharmaceutical companies to step up efforts to develop new methods for diagnosis.

Among others, precision equipment maker Shimadzu Corp. has said it aims to develop a testing method that can detect the new coronavirus in one hour for release by the end of March.

Kanagawa Prefecture and the government-backed research institute Riken also said recently they have jointly developed a testing method to determine whether an individual is infected or not within 30 minutes.