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Abu Dhabi to discover how long COVID-19 is airborne

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After studying Covid-19 for a year, the world has come a long way in understanding the virus, its transmission and how to keep the public safe. Still, several other questions are yet to be answered — like, how long does the Covid virus stay in the air? Do masks and PPEs give enough protection, especially to frontliners? Experts in Abu Dhabi seek to find out.

Researchers at Khalifa University and Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi are developing a model to identify the airborne behaviour of the SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19.

They will be using nanoparticles to simulate the virus transmission in the healthcare environment. The research will contribute to a safer hospital environment and lower transmission rates, while assessing the effectiveness of masks and other personal protective equipment (PPEs).

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Dr Ammar Nayfeh, associate professor at Khalifa University, who is leading the research team, said they are using nanoparticles to understand how the SARS CoV-2 virus travels and stays in the air.

“The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention reported that coronavirus can spread through airborne particles and linger for hours. We at Khalifa University are developing a model to understand how the virus travels through the air and how long it can stay airborne using nanotechnology.”

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Dr Nayfeh said the researchers are using colloids and mannequins to assess safety levels at hospitals, as well as the effectiveness of masks and other PPEs.

“We will use a spray of colloid made of silicon nanoparticles to simulate a patient’s cough and aerosol generation. As you know, Covid-19 is invisible to us but these nanoparticles can glow under red UV light.”

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Dr Nayfeh said the team will be testing their model with mannequins in a hospital environment at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi.

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The hospital has provided two patient care environments for testing. No patients are involved in this research and the team will use medical mannequins to simulate a breathing healthcare worker in a patient’s room.

“Our model will openly help to control the spread by better understanding how the virus spreads. We hope that this will lead to a better future post Covid-19,” Dr Nayfeh added.

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