DOST to mass-produce collection booths for Covid-19 samples

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In support of the Department of Health’s (DOH) efforts to conduct mass testing in the country, the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) said it will mass-produce Sample Collection Booths (SCBs) after passing the required validation tests from four hospitals.

The booths are designed and fabricated by Futuristic Aviation and Maritime Enterprise (FAME), startup grant awardee by DOST Philippine Council for Industry, Energy and Emerging Technology Research and Development (DOST-PCIEERD). The SCBs passed the initial performance assessment conducted at the Regional Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM), Philippine General Hospital, Lung Center of the Philippines, and Dr. Jose N. Rodriguez Memorial Hospital.

The SCBs, which were inspired by the telephone booth-style coronavirus testing stations in other Asian countries, are compact, with good ventilation, easy to mobilize, can remotely monitor the patient’s temperature and is a good protective barrier between the frontliner and the suspected Covid-19 patient.

It has window-mounted nitrile gloves that are disinfected for five minutes after every patient. Other current designs from different sources were also considered in the selection of the final design for the SCB considering safety for both tester and patient, mobility of the unit, and compactness of the design for ease of deployment.

Testing will be conducted by seating each patient outside the booth while the medical professional collect their samples by swabbing their nose and throat using arm-length nitrile gloves built into the front window of the booth. Then, the sample will be taken to the accredited laboratories for diagnostic purposes. Used gloves and other hazardous waste are properly disposed of in waste bins.

The SCBs will be delivered by April 30 to DOH-identified testing locations around the country.

DOST undersecretary for research and development Dr. Rowena Cristina Guevara cited FAME for stepping up to the plate and immediately responding to the need for SCBs in the country.

“As we continue to make change happen in the Philippines through research and development, we are optimistic that these SCBs will tip the scales in our fight against Covid-19, giving us a faster way to identify and isolate patients,” she said.

DOST PCIEERD executive director Enrico Paringit acknowledged FAME’s innovative approach in helping frontliners in battling Covid-19 in the country. FAME was a DOST-PCIEERD Startup Grant Awardee for its low-cost transponders developed for small boats with fisherfolks in mind.

“FAME upped the ante in our fight against Covid-19.  As a leader and partner in enabling research, innovations and development in the country, we will continue to support innovators who, do not only push technological boundaries but also respond to pressing challenges in the Philippines,” he said.

DOST PCHRD executive director Jaime C. Montoya stressed the importance of protecting the frontline workers in our country’s fight against Covid-19.

“In this fight, our heroes are the frontline workers. Through this project, we are providing a new level of protection for our health workers whose health may be at risk due to shortages in PPEs. Likewise, this SCB is an inspiring method to support our goal of mass testing,” he said.

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