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COVID-19 home test kits are pictured in a store window during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., January 19, 2022. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

BRASILIA, Jan 28 (Reuters) - Brazilian health regulator Anvisa on Friday approved the sale of COVID-19 self-tests in drugstores across the country as the Omicron variant of the coronavirus is causing a record surge in new infections.

Anvisa directors said their decision aims to increase testing to help reduce the contagion rate in Brazil.

At home COVID test kits are already widely used in Europe and the United States. Until now, Brazil did not allow them to be used to detect viral diseases that require compulsory notification to health authorities.

Brazil on Thursday reported a record 228,954 new COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours, along with 672 deaths, the highest toll since early October last year.

The South American country has registered 24,764,838 confirmed cases since the pandemic began, while the official death toll stood at 625,085 as of Thursday. Both are among the highest tolls in the world.

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Reporting by Ricardo Brito; Writing by Gabriel Araujo; Editing by Bill Berkrot

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.