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UBC study aims to learn how COVID-19 spreads in schools and academic settings

Click to play video: 'UBC launches study into how COVID-19 spreads in schools'
UBC launches study into how COVID-19 spreads in schools
UBC launches study into how COVID-19 spreads in schools – Dec 16, 2020

How does COVID-19 spread in university buildings, and how effective are current sanitization procedures at stamping it out?

Those are the key questions behind a new study at the University of British Columbia, in partnership with a pair of Canadian companies.

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The study will see scientists use data analytics from Vancouver-based BuiltSpace and along with testing tools from New Brunswick biotech firm LuminUltra over an eight-week period.

The company says its testing system, which can assess 16 samples at once, can provide results in about two hours.

Click to play video: 'B.C. researcher hopes to determine how many children have had COVID-19'
B.C. researcher hopes to determine how many children have had COVID-19

“With 16 tests you can test multiple surfaces so really you could do a sweep of a building, set up a baseline,” said Martin Hirst, associate professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology and associate director of UBC’s Michael Smith Laboratories.

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“Then if an event occurred, that could perhaps give you some indication that someone in the building was in fact infectious.”

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Researchers with UBC’s Michael Smith Labs and school custodians will collect more than 1,000 samples in two high-traffic UBC Vancouver buildings to understand the distribution of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and validate infection control protocols.

Researchers say the research will give policymakers new tools to help with cleaning, testing and contact tracing and could help better protect teachers and students.

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