(Reuters) – The New York State Department of Health can authorize certain laboratories to begin testing for the coronavirus, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said on Friday.

The agency is granting this flexibility due to the urgent public health need for additional testing capacity in the United States.

Boosting testing capacity is crucial to assessing the scope of the U.S. outbreak and identifying where it is spreading most rapidly.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Thursday that the city might push forward with using its own automated, high-volume tests without federal sign off.

(Reporting By Mrinalika Roy in Bengaluru)