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CUHK researchers find new way to get test samples

2020-12-10 HKT 13:46
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  • CUHK researchers find new way to get test samples
Researchers at Chinese University said on Thursday that they have come up with a new way to obtain samples for Covid-19 tests that is more suitable for children and elderly people, but just as accurate as existing methods.

Deep throat saliva, nasal and throat swabs are the most common ways to collect samples for coronavirus tests.

But researchers at the university's faculty of medicine said there are limitations to these methods, for example the swabs can be uncomfortable and elderly people and children can find it difficult to provide good saliva samples.

Instead, they said a paper strip can be placed inside the nose and by applying pressure for around a minute, it can absorb fluid for testing.

This method is less likely than others to trigger sneezing or coughing and it therefore reduces the risk of spreading the virus, the researchers said, adding that they had tested the strips out on around 40 coronavirus patients.

"[The Nasal strip] is better for [elderly and children] in terms of the comfort when compared with a nasal swab," said Professor Simon Lam from the university's department of paediatrics.

"In terms of the accuracy, it's comparable to the nasal swab. But in terms of difficulty it's comparable more to deep throat saliva, so we could say in certain cases, it's the best of both worlds."

However, Lam said it is too soon to replace deep throat saliva testing with the nasal strips.

"In order to replace an old, established method, we need to have much more data in terms of community based false negative and false positive cases, or at lease some estimation of that. At this stage it would be premature to say that there would be no false negatives or a very low [number of] false negatives," he said.

The researchers said they had recently obtained another 1,000 samples from patients and these will be processed and analysed before a more comprehensive report can be submitted to the health authorities.