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Singapore's scientists have learned to detect SARS-CoV-2 in the air

A group of Singaporean scientists, engineers, and doctors from Nanyang Technological University and the National University of Singapore has developed a device capable of detecting the presence of SARS-CoV-2 virus particles in the air. An article about this was published in the magazine Indoor Air.

When tested in two inpatient departments of a large Singapore hospital, where patients with active COVID-19 are cared for, air sampling with subsequent detection of coding nucleic acid molecules in viral RNA provided a higher level of detection of SARS-CoV-2 in the environment (72%) compared to more traditional methods of removing smears from surfaces in the same premises (9.6%). The extracted RNA undergoes reverse transcription in real-time by polymerase chain reaction, which is comparable in sensitivity to the standard test of nasopharyngeal samples to check for the presence of SARS-CoV-2. However, such results could be achieved only when using air samplers with sampling speeds up to 150 l/min. When the speed was reduced to 50 l/min, no successful detection of SARS-CoV-2 in the air was registered.

The results obtained indicate the high potential of air monitoring systems that monitor the presence of viral particles and provide early warning of the risks of infection, which is especially important in hospitals, nursing homes, and other enclosed spaces where many people gather. Such devices can also be used as additional tools for mass anti-virus screening (alternative methods also include the screening of each individual, sampling of wastewater, etc.).

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