WASHINGTON — U.S. health regulators on Tuesday OK’d the first coronavirus test that allows people to collect their own sample at home, a new approach that could help expand testing options in most states.

The test from LabCorp will initially only be available to health care workers and first responders under a doctor’s orders. The sample will still have to be shipped for processing back to LabCorp, which operates diagnostic labs throughout the U.S.

Allowing people to self-swab at home would help reduce infection risks for front-line health care workers and help conserve protective gear.

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For the home test, people are initially screened with an online questionnaire. If authorized by a physician, LabCorp will ship a testing kit to their home. The kit includes cotton swabs, a collection tube, an insulated pouch and box to ship the specimen back to LabCorp. To take a sample, a cotton swab is swirled in each nostril. The test results are posted online to a secure company website.

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1:43Coronavirus: Dozens of companies waiting to distribute test kits in Canada

Coronavirus: Dozens of companies waiting to distribute test kits in Canada

The company said it will make the test available in the coming weeks.

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