Research team from HKUST launches world’s fastest portable detector for novel coronavirus


6th February 2020 – (Hong Kong) As novel coronavirus continues to spread across the community, it is difficult to track down infected patients because there are many “invisible” carriers with no obvious symptoms who are walking around the streets.

The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology research team has newly developed the world’s fastest portable detector for novel coronavirus. The new instrument uses microfluidic biochip technology, which can complete the diagnosis within about 40 minutes from the sampling to the test result, which is more effective than the current universal virus detection. The current method, that is, the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) detection technology generally takes 1.5 to 3 hours. At present, the detector and the kit have been applied in the disease control centers of Shenzhen and Guangzhou.

Professor Wen Weijia and Professor Kao from the Department of Physics of HKUST introduced this latest invention today, the new detector is presented in a suitcase and can simultaneously detect 8 samples at a time. The instrument consists of a number of components, including a microfluidic biochip portable PCR instrument, a sample pretreatment system, a bioassay chip, and a new coronavirus nucleic acid detection kit. The instrument is lightweight and portable, can be used outdoors, and it is suitable for all levels of disease control centres, customs, immigration inspection, quarantine departments, and nursing homes. It adopts the same method as the rapid flu screening. The fast sifting test paper is used to sample the nasal cavity and then placed in the analyzer to check the results. In addition to the nasopharyngeal samples, the samples tested also include blood and faeces.