Kenya is now equipped to test for the Novel Coronavirus that has claimed the lives of more than 1,100 people in China.

Previously, Kenya depended on South Africa where samples from individuals suspected to have the virus were sent to for testing. Kenya now has two facilities to carry out coronavirus tests in real time.

On Tuesday, Acting Director-General of Health Patrick Amoth said laboratories under the National Influenza Centre, hosted at the National Public Health Laboratories and Kenya Medical Research Institute (Kemri), will begin testing samples immediately.

“We received the kits on Sunday and we will now be able to test for the new coronavirus,” Dr Amoth told the Nation.

He said equipping the laboratories means the country will not have to ship out samples for confirmation as the two labs can compare their results.

Health officials were previously unable to confirm whether any of the seven people suspected to have the virus were infected as laboratories lacked the necessary “reagent kits”.

Testing will now take 24 hours as Kenya becomes the third country in Africa capable of conducting tests after South Africa and Senegal.

This comes as it emerged that Kenya’s economy is the most vulnerable in Africa to coronavirus outbreak. The new study from the Overseas Development Institute shows that Kenya is the sixth most vulnerable country in the world.

The death toll from the coronavirus reached a new high(1,113) on Wednesday even as Chinese officials said the rate of new infections showed signs of slowing.

The World Health Organization on Tuesday proposed ‘COVID-19’ as the official name for the illness caused by the new coronavirus.