COVID testing science and ingenuity goes mobile


Rapid and accurate communitywide detection is crucial in curbing COVID outbreaks. While the Government has been busy expanding Hong Kong’s overall testing capacity, HKUST recently took the initiative of putting concerned students and staff members’ minds at ease by offering a convenient, on-campus testing service. 
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With the help of the Health, Safety and Environment Office, a Mobile PCR Detection Lab was deployed on site at HKUST between March 4 and 8. The end product of close collaboration between Physics Prof. WEN Weija and the Chinese Manufacturers' Association’s non-profit laboratory,  the lab provided individual deep throat saliva or nasal swab tests for anyone needing one. 

Leveraging Prof. Wen’s pioneering rapid detection device with microfluidic chip technology, the highly mobile testing platform can easily be moved between different locations to benefit the maximum number of Hongkongers. 

Having earned the internationally recognized ISO15190-2003 biodiversity laboratory certification, the facility  satisfies the most stringent safety requirement for medical laboratories. Inside the facility, the risk of external aerosol leakage and internal cross-contamination is eliminated by three negative pressure functional areas which ensure all individual test samples being prepared, processed, and analyzed are kept separate at all times. The facility has  also been custom-designed to cope with bumpy road conditions to maintain sample integrity while in motion.  


Detailed results were emailed to those receiving rapid PCR screening tests within 2 hours; and 24-48 hours for those requesting conventional PCR tests as specified under the Government’s compulsory test requirements. While on site, the lab successfully tested more than 400 students, academic and supporting staff over six sessions. Happily, no one was found to have tested positive. Best of all, in sharing the fruits of its researchers’ labors with the HKUST community, the University either waived or heavily subsidized the cost of each test.

To learn more about the mobile lab, please watch the video jointly provided by HKUST, CMA, CAERI and Shineway.
Safeguarding students, teaching and support staff’s health and wellbeing will always be HKUST’s top priority. Please check our COVID-19 portal regularly to understand our latest precautionary and safety measures.

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