In light of the increasing number of domestic COVID-19 cases, authorities urgently upgraded the alert for Taipei City and New Taipei City to Level 3. In response, the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) has urged ITRI to assist Taiwan’s epidemic prevention effort with the use of its positive pressure testing booth. The booth assists hospitals in the rapid screening of large number of patients, and will protect medical workers in the process.
Collecting samples at inspection sites is uncomfortable for health workers as they need to work for long periods in stifling protective clothing. ITRI’s testing booth, designed with a small positive pressure of 10 Pascals (Pa) to ensure its air-tightness and isolation, can overcome such a challenge. With the assistance of National Taiwan University Hospital Hsinchu Biomedical Park Branch and Mackay Memorial Hospital Hsinchu Branch, testing booths that were originally deployed at the two hospitals were disassembled and then reassembled at Taipei City Hospital Zhongxing Branch and the Bopiliao area. Thanks to the support of Taipei City Hospital Superintendent Dr. Sheng-Jean Huang, Deputy Superintendent Dr. Dachen Chu, and Zhongxing Branch Superintendent Dr. Ching-Yao Tsai, the two testing booths were completed on May 16. This allows ITRI to assist the hospitals in launching the testing booths under the guidance of the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) to meet the growing demand of rapid COVID-19 testing.
The testing booth features five unique characteristics. The first feature is its safe design, as a patented positive pressure technology only allows air to move from inside to outside. Contaminated air is unable to enter the booth, thus alleviating any exposure risks to medical workers taking samples. The second is its high sample collection capacity. The booth has two sides, enabling samples to be collected from at least 12 individuals hourly. In urgent situations, samples can be collected from as many as 240 people within a day, thus making the booth highly efficient. Thirdly, the booths conserve energy and are comfortable. Each booth is fitted with an air-conditioner, creating a comfortable and dry environment 24 hours a day regardless of the season. In addition, smart energy-saving technology means daily electricity costs are under NT$60. The fourth feature is that the booths are independent and ultra-clean. The booths feature a Class 1000 level of cleanliness, which is even higher than hospital operating rooms, making them among the cleanest testing booths in the world. Lastly, the testing booth features quick assembly. The rapid assembly facilitates speedy deployment of these booths. In particular, Taiwan’s strengths and experience in building IC fabs and clean rooms for optoelectronics factories for more than decades yields a level of cleanliness that is even better than hospital operating rooms.
ITRI’s positive pressure COVID-19 testing booth was developed in 2020 following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, with the joint efforts of ITRI and many hospitals including Mackay Memorial Hospital Hsinchu Branch, New Taipei City Hospital, Taichung Tzu Chi Hospital, and Hualien Tzu Chi Hospital. It is the most immaculate such facility in the world, and has been in use in field tests for nearly a year at National Taiwan University Hospital Hsinchu Biomedical Park Branch and Mackay Memorial Hospital Hsinchu Branch to protect frontline test collection medical staff.
These testing booths are now able to assist in meeting the needs of medical workers in the effort to collect samples in a risk-free environment. In the future, ITRI will continue to cooperate with the MOEA and the CECC in providing technology to fight the spread of COVID-19.
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