The Food and Drug Administration issued an emergency authorization on Tuesday for a diagnostic test to detect the presence of the Middle East coronavirus at the request of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The emergency approval follows the Health and Human Services secretary's determination that the virus called Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV), which has killed at least 40 people, poses a potential public health threat.
On July 5, the World Health Organization said MERS, which can cause fever, coughing and pneumonia, had not yet reached pandemic potential and may simply die out.
WHO experts last month said countries at risk from MERS should put in place plans for handling mass gatherings but has stopped short of recommending restrictions on travel.
(Reporting by Julie Steenhuysen; Editing by Doina Chiacu)