In Japan, vending machines now sell virus tests

It is perhaps the world capital of vending machines.

Now Japan's many automated vendors have a new product to offer: virus testing kits.

A clinic has so far set up seven of the machines in the Tokyo area.

They sell kits for about 40 dollars.

This student stumbled on one outside a noodle shop.

I was surprised to find one at a restaurant, not a drugstore, she says.

The machines may meet a need.

Japan's government has been conducting just 40,000 of the so-called PCR tests each day.

That's a quarter of capacity, with the tests restricted to those who are most symptomatic or at high risk.

The general public has been left heavily reliant on private clinics, or buying PCR tests by other means.

Hideaki Takemura is director of the Laketown Takenoko clinic which set up the machines.

"As a way to avoid crowded gatherings, to get tests easily without appointments, I came up with the vending machine idea, and I thought it would be very useful if we could put them everywhere in a town."

Takemura says there was huge demand at first, with some machines needing to be emptied of money twice a day.

That demand now shows signs of easing, as a state of emergency helps cut cases in Tokyo.