Ebola laboratory

Laboratory tests for Ebola virus take 12 to 24 hours. (Edward Echwalu/Reuters)

A 15-minute test for Ebola virus infection is now approved to use during the emergency,  the World Health Organization says.

Currently, well trained scientists conduct Ebola tests in special labs. They’re able to detect the virus’s nucleic acid in 12 to 24 hours.

On Friday, WHO announced the ReEBOV Antigen Rapid Test Kit meets quality, safety and performance requirements to use in the context of the Ebola emergency.

"It is a little bit less accurate than a standard PCR test that we are currently using, but it's easy to perform, does not require electricity and it can be therefore used in lower health care facilities, lower level of health care facilities or in mobile units for patients in remote settings," WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic told reporters in Geneva. 

Where possible, results of the rapid test should be confirmed by testing a new blood sample with the gold-standard lab test, the United Nations health agency said. 

In trials, the newly approved test correctly identified about 92 per cent of Ebola infected patients and 85 per cent of those not infected. 

The rapid test is made by Colorado-based Corgenix. The test involves putting a drop of blood on a paper strip and waiting for a reaction in a test tube. 

The World Health Organization said more than 9,300 deaths and 23,000 cases have been reported in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia since March 2013. Unsafe burials and security incidents continue to present challenges, it said.

With files from Reuters and Associated Press