A HAMPSHIRE company has invented the world's first commercially available test for the deadly coronavirus.

Chandler's Ford-based Primerdesign took just two weeks to create a test which detects the virus, which has so far claimed 170 lives across the globe.

The company has already received 10,000 orders - and the figure is expected to soar over the next few days.

Adam Herridge the product manager for Primerdesign added: "This test is significant because it enables laboratories around the world to run a precise, rapid and cost-effective method to test exclusively for the 2019-nCoV strain in high throughput volumes.

"Until now, options have been limited to sequencing, which is costly in both money and time, or homebrew tests where facilities exist."

The breakthrough comes as the international crisis caused by the virus continues to get worse.

Originating in the Chinese city of Wuhan, the virus has so infected 7,711 people and more cases are being reported all the time.

British Airways flights to and from mainland China have been suspended - and Britons returning from China will have to spend two weeks in quarantine.

A cruise ship with 6,000 passengers is on lockdown in an Italian port amid fears that two Chinese national aboard the vessel could have the virus.

The test developed by Primerdesign can produce a result in around two hours by detecting the presence of RNA, a tell-tale sign of the virus.

Two versions of the kit will be sold. On version can be used on all DNA testing instruments which makes the test accessible to all laboratories.

The second version can only be used on the designated Primerdesign DNA instrument.

The company developed the first detection kits for swine flu in 2009 and were early pioneers in creating a test for Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) in 2012.

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, ranging from the common cold, to severe diseases such as MERS and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).

Dr Paul Oladimeji, head of product development, said: "Primerdesign has a rich history of being the first to respond to these types of emerging threats to public health.

"We will all be really proud when it is out there in the world helping people."