COVID-19 curve can be flattened by adopting mass screening protocols with aggressive testing and isolating infected populations. The current approach largely depends on RT-PCR/rapid antigen tests that require expert personnel resulting in higher costs and reduced testing frequency. Alternatively, to effectively quantitate the loss of smell that is a prominent marker of COVID-19, Dr. Jackson James and team from Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology, Trivandrum in collaboration with Dr. Balarama Kaimal’s group from Saveetha Medical College Hospital, Chennai developed a paper-based odor strip. Their “COVID-Anosmia checker”, spotted with gradients of coffee and lemon grass oil was validated in healthy and COVID-19 positive subjects. A trial screening to identify SARS-CoV-2 infected persons was also carried out to check the sensitivity and specificity of the screening tool. It was observed that COVID positive participants were hyposmic (partial loss of smell) instead of being anosmic (complete loss of smell) when they were subjected to smelling higher odor concentration. Their tool identified 97% of symptomatic and 94% of asymptomatic COVID-19 positive subjects. Further, it was possible to reliably predict COVID-19 infection by calculating a loss of smell score with 100% specificity. This tool was further coupled with a mobile application, which takes the input response from the user, and can readily categorize the user in the appropriate risk groups (low-risk, medium-risk and high-risk) thereby considerably reducing the testing cost. It can be used by individual without necessary expertise and can be easily used in difficult to reach geographical locations or for screening at airports or border entry points. An individual can repeatedly self-test at home to check for the suspected onset of COVID-19. The primary screening using the COVID-Anosmia checker is swift and takes only ~2 minutes to complete the test and costs ~US$ 0.14 for manufacturing each test strip. A pre-print version of the manuscript with complete details is hosted in the non-profit pre-print server
medRxiv (doi: https://doi.org/10.1101/2020.10.28.20221200)
The COVID-19 pandemic is of an unprecedented magnitude encountered in many decades. On behalf of the scientific community of the country, the Science Academies pledge full support to the initiatives of the Government to contain the spread of the novel corona virus attack, including scientific and technical support required to develop therapeutic measures. We will also join the Government in its appeal to the citizens to not be misled by rumors and to not use therapies that are not scientifically validated. The Academies support the complete lockdown of our country, and we have initiated the process of explaining to the citizens the importance of this lockdown. The Science Academies pledge to extend their help and support to develop less-expensive diagnostic assays than those currently used, to validate repurposing of drugs and to develop vaccines and new drugs without compromising on national standards. If called upon, the academies will actively co-operate and strengthen the hands of the Government to successfully overcome the current novel corona virus crisis, and help establish response systems that are scientifically rigorous, technically sound, administratively competent and sociologically acceptable. This will assure that the Indian society is appropriately and adequately equipped to face similar challenges in future, which the Science Academies strive to attain.
- Amazon Books are open for free.
Audible Stories are available for children who are temporarily unable to go to school around the world. Listen to all audiobooks for free, with content ranging from preschool to classic literature, no download of apps, no login required, no ads, English, German, French, Spanish, Italian, and Japanese.
- 17 virtual museums in Europe have free online virtual visits.
- Cambridge Books in the UK offer 700 books for free reading.
In response to the epidemic, Cambridge Publishing, UK, offers 700 online reading editions of their books. The free reading period is until the end of May, and includes some Christian and theological works.
- Broadway in the United States offers free online operas.
Dear Colleagues and Students,
- In reference to the above subject matter, please find enclosed the OM dated 22.03.2020 issued by DoPT for stric compliance.
- Accordingly all non essential work (administration, technical and research) remains suspended till March 31, 2020. Further orders will be issued on March 30, 2020.
- All essential services including MLS and LMMD will function as usual including on Sundays. Other essential services will be maintained as outlined earlier.
- Instructions given regarding students and personnel staying on campus will be strictly followed. RGCB Administration and Security Services may ensure this.
- Essential staff may be posted to the cafeteria in view of essential staff working and students staying on campus.
- All RGCB personnel are advised to curtail all non-essential travel (including to the institute) and follow instructions issued by the Central Government and advisories from State Government from time to time.
- In addition instructions issued by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and available on the website may be strictly followed.
Dear Colleagues and Students,
- Thank you for cooperating with RGCB guidelines in the response to the COVID 19 situation. In addition to previous guidelines, the following also comes into effect from today (March 20, 2020). Any deviation from these guidelines needs specific approval from the CoA and/or Director. All RGCB personnel must comply with the Honorable Prime Minister's guidelines for observing a Janatha curfew on Sunday March 22, 2020. The Honorable Prime Minister asked citizens to observe a "Janata curfew" on Sunday March 22, 2020 as a test run for social distancing over the next few days to fight the spread of coronavirus. As part of the self-curfew, the Prime Minister said everyone must stay home from 7 am to 9 pm that day and abide by it.
- In accordance with DOPT orders, 50% of all core RGCB officers in the B and C levels must be present at any point of time in the workplace. Such officers have to make necessary arrangements with their supervising officers. Supervising officers may draw up required rosters and flexible timings and have it approved by CoA. Essential activities in the institute including needed housekeeping, electricity sub station, civil, electrical & and instrumentation engineering) has to be maintained. All Class A officers will work as usual practicing social distancing and needed precautions.
- In view of the financial year end, all administration, finance and accounts personnel are requested to perform their duties at appropriate locations (home or office) after due consultation and approvals of their supervising officers and CoA and taking all safety measures needed.
- In regard to research activities, as emphasized earlier, no new studies/experiments/work should be initiated. Please bring all current work to a logical halt and make arrangements (wherever possible) to restart them later.
- The number of personnel in laboratories should be limited to a bare minimum for absolutely essential work only.
- Students & Research Fellows staying in the hostel can leave for their homes and return only after checking the RGCB website on April 6, 2020. All necessary precautions should be taken while travelling to and returning from home.
- Students & Research Fellows who are unable to travel home can stay in the campus hostel maintaining strict compliance with social distancing protocols and avoiding trips outside the campus. If anyone feels unwell, please contact the wardens and/or the RGCB administration/security services immediately.
- Any scheduled committee meetings and visits to RGCB stand postponed till further instructions.
- The Cafeteria will function with essential staff only taking all safety measures needed.
- The Animal Research Facility will function only to maintain animals, with essential staff only taking all safety measures needed.
- The Central Cell Line Facility will function only to maintain cell lines, with essential staff only taking all safety measures needed.
- All work in the LMMD will continue as usual. RGCB is a designated coronavirus testing facility of the Government of India as well as the sentinel testing centre for Government of Kerala.
- The currently initiated viral pneumonia research program will go on uninterrupted in the designated laboratories.
Social distancing is a non-pharmaceutical infection prevention and control intervention implemented to avoid/decrease contact between those who are infected with a disease causing pathogen and those who are not, so as to stop or slow down the rate and extent of disease transmission in a community. This eventually leads to decrease in spread, morbidity and mortality due to the disease.
In addition to the proposed interventions, the State/UT Governments may prescribe such other measures as they consider necessary.
All these proposed interventions shall be in force till 31st of March, 2020. They will be reviewed as per the evolving situation.
The following interventions are proposed:
- Closure of all educational establishments (schools, universities etc), gyms, museums, cul tural and social centres, swimming pools and theatres. Students should be advised to stay at home. Online education to be promoted.
- Possibility of postponing exams may be explored. Ongoing exams to be conducted only after ensuring physical distance of one meter amongst students.
- Encourage private sector organizations/employers to allow employees to work from home wherever feasible.
- Meetings, as far as feasible, shall be done through video conferences. Minimize or reschedule meetings involving large number of people unless necessary.
- Restaurants to ensure handwashing protocol and proper cleanliness of frequently touched surfaces. Ensure physical distancing (minimum 1metre) between tables; encourage open air seating where practical with adequate distancing.
- Keep already planned weddings to a limited gathering, postpone all non-essential social and cultural gatherings.
- Local authorities to have a dialogue with organizers of sporting events and competitions involving large gatherings and they may be advised to postpone such events.
- Local authorities to have a dialogue with opinion leaders and religious leaders to regulate mass gatherings and should ensure no overcrowding/at least one metre distance between people.
- Local authorities to have meeting with traders associations and other stakeholders to regulate hours, exhibit Do's and Don'ts and take up a communication drive in market places like sabzi mandi, anaj mandi, bus depots, railway stations, post-offices etc., where essential services are provided.
- All commercial activities must keep a distance of one meter between customers. Measures to reduce peak hour crowding in markets.
- Non-essential travel should be avoided. Buses, Trains and aeroplanes to maximize social distancing in public transport besides ensuring regular and proper disinfection of surfaces.
- Hospitals to follow necessary protocol related with COVID-19 management as pres cribed and restrict family/friends/children visiting patients in hospitals.
- Hygiene and physical distancing has to be maintained. Shaking hands and hugging as a matter of greeting to be avoided.
- Special protective measures for delivery men/ women working in online ordering services. Keep communities informed consistently and constantly.
Ministry of Health & Family Welfare
Dear Colleagues and Students,
The next few weeks are crucial in containing the spread of COVID-19,
especially in avoiding community spread. Hence, in addition to existing
RGCB directives in the wake of this Corona outbreak, the following steps
will be implemented forthwith:
- All short-term trainees in RGCB laboratories are to stop attending the laboratories till further orders. Those staying in RGCB hostels are to vacate immediately (latest by 5 pm on Tuesday March 17, 2020). They may continue training after the outbreak is contained, deciding upon a date once RGCB gives permission to restart the program. They can plan this in consultation with their own institution authorities and the RGCB Scientist under whom they are currently working.
- Students/Fellows staying in the hostel are informed that no visits beyond Trivandrum District will be permitted from March 16, 2020. Those who must go home can only return after RGCB gives permission. All personnel in hostels are requested to be honest on this and keep the hostel wardens and RGCB Admin informed. Breach of this requirement will invite appropriate action. All PhD students and/or Research Fellows, PDFs and other personnel staying in hostels, shared guest houses and shared student residencies outside the RGCB hostel are instructed to work from their place of residence or homes till further notice. All PI's please do the needed.
- RGCB Personnel who travel in public transport including trains may want to consider working from home after ensuring appropriate arrangements are made in their place of work. Such personnel may take a final decision after talking to their supervisors. Any decision on this may be informed to the RGCB Admin for final approval. This arrangement is provisionally sanctioned till April 5, 2020.
- The Kerala State Government has initiated a 'Break the Chain' campaign. The advice is to insist on sanitizer use or hand-wash before an employee enters into the office building. This is to avoid the spread of virus through contaminated hands that may contaminate doorknobs, handrails etc. In line with this directive, security staff posted at the entry of RGCB building have been directed to make sure that alcohol antiseptic sprays are sprayed on the hands of all persons entering into the buildings. All personnel are also advised regular washing of hands with soap.
- In view of the acute shortage of hand sanitizers, RGCB is making an alcohol based hand wash. If you require refills of your sanitizer bottle, please get in touch with Mr. N. Jayakrishnan
To have a unified approach to all policies of RGCB to the COVID 10 situation, an Institute Response Committee (IRC) is hereby constituted:
- Professor M. Radhakrishna Pillai (Chairman)
- Professor Joshy Jacob (External Adviser)
- Dr. R Ajay Kumar (Biosafety Committee Representative)
- Dr. E. Sreekumar (Molecular Virologist)
- Dr R. Radhakrishnan (Molecular Diagnostics)
- Dr. Iype Joseph (Medical Epidemiologist)
- Dr. John B Johnson (Molecular Virologist)
- Dr. Sara Jones (Viral Biologist)
- Try to reduce all unnecessary travel. Even when travelling, it is better to avoid AC buses & trains and aircrafts as these are closed containers. Travelling also leads you into crowds, another thing to be avoided. Try to keep a distance with other people so that you do not come very close to them. Always keep a handkerchief ready with you. Use it at all appropriate times.
- In case you are sick, you strongly advised that you do not travel to any place except to the hospital, when necessary. Even if you are not affected by Coronavirus, it is very likely that other people may become severely offended to see you cough or sneeze in public, due to the heightened anxiety in the community to all respiratory illnesses. When going to the doctor, cover your nose and mouth properly, so as to not infect the hospital staff.
- Two of the most important preventive measures have to be kept in mind at all times. They are hand washing with soap & water and avoidance of touching your eyes, nose and mouth with your own hands. These are two behavioral changes which are difficult to be acquired at short notice. They need persistent efforts to achieve. The benefits of these two measures will stay with you even after the Corona threat passes away.
COVID - 19 INFO -1
COVID - 19 INFO-2 (5 THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW FOR SELF ISOLATION)
COVID - 19: BREAK THE CHAIN
COVID - 19: LET'S START WELCOMING OUR GUESTS LIKE THIS
COVID - 19
Coronavirus: Take Precautions, But Try Not to Panic
The lack of a vaccine means it is vital to take the precautions that can help protect you from coronavirus.
BY ROSANNE LEIPZIG, MD, PHD • MARCH 10, 2020
You are no doubt alarmed by news reports about the spread of
COVID-19, also known as coronavirus. Most confirmed cases of coronavirus
cause mild symptoms, and it is possible that the death rate for the
virus is artificially high because many of these mild cases haven't been
reported. However, early data from the Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention and Prevention indicates that
coronavirus is highly contagious, and that it can cause serious
respiratory complications in certain individuals. The elderly are
particularly vulnerable to these complications, along with people who
have heart, lung or kidney disease, and/or diabetes.
Those whose immunity
is compromised by cancer, HIV, and immunosuppressant drugs also are at
Unfortunately, age weakens the immune system, making it harder for seniors to fight off infections. Older adults also are more likely to have other health conditions (such as those noted previously) that make it more difficult to cope with and recover from illness. These factors contribute to the toll influenza and pneumonia take on older adults during the winter. While we have vaccines that can help prevent influenza and pneumonia, we don't yet have one for COVID-19 —but there are things you can do to stay well.
The lack of a vaccine means it is vital to take the precautions that can help protect you from COVID-19. The main route of virus transmission is through droplets that are generated when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks. Droplets are too large to be airborne for long periods of time, and quickly settle out of the air onto surfaces. It is not clear how long COVID-19 survives on a surface, but susceptible people can be infected from contact with a contaminated surface. To reduce transmission, frequently touched surfaces should be properly disinfected. Also thoroughly wash your hands as often as possible, taking sufficient time to do so - the CDC recommends at least 20 seconds (essentially two rounds of singing "Happy birthday") - and try to avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. Since frequent handwashing can be very drying for your skin, also apply moisturizer. This will help you avoid the sore, cracked skin that can give bacteria better access.
Stay at home as much as you can, especially if cases of the virus have been reported in your community. If you have to go out, try to avoid public transport and crowds, and limit your contact with people who are coughing and sneezing. If you won't have frequent access to handwashing facilities while you are out, take a bottle of alcohol-based hand sanitizer with you and apply plenty of it, working it under your fingernails and in between your fingers. Note that the CDC is not recommending that people wear masks to avoid exposure to COVID-19, though a mask may be useful to prevent the spread of the virus by people who have symptoms.
It also is wise to have a contingency plan in case you become ill with COVID-19, or you find out that somebody you have been in close contact with has developed the virus. Make sure you will have sufficient groceries - and medications, if you take these-to last a 14-day quarantine period. Make a list of contact numbers you can access easily (for example, neighbors, your doctor, local public health department, senior center, and any local organizations that can assist in delivering food and other supplies if you are unable to go out), and ensure that you have an up-to-date list of emergency contacts where paramedics can see it if necessary
It's important to stay alert for symptoms that may be suggestive of COVID-19. As with influenza, the virus starts with a fever, followed by a dry cough that may develop into shortness of breath (for comparison, the common cold-which also is a type of coronavirus-rarely causes fever). If you are at all concerned about respiratory symptoms, contact your doctor about what course of action to take. Continue to frequently wash your hands, and cough into your sleeve or a tissue. Also take the precaution of cleaning and disinfecting areas and objects you frequently touch (doorknobs, light switches, the TV remote, kitchen countertops). If you develop COVID-19, be prepared to self-isolate yourself away from other family members and pets.
The COVID-19 outbreak is a rapidly evolving situation, but the CDC has a dedicated area on its website with up-to-date information and further advice on what you can do to stay safe-visit https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html for details.
How Far Does a Sneeze Travel?
Beware the sneeze! It bursts forth bearing droplets that can make us sick. How far does a sneeze travel? Science has the answer. (Or, look out for "multiphase turbulent buoyant.
BY LARRY CANALE • JANUARY 4, 2019
As long as we frequent public places—grocery stores, malls, plazas, restaurants, offices, schools, airports, train stations—it’s bound to happen. Someone walking toward us lets loose with a spontaneous sneeze. Can the germs suddenly floating in the air make us sick? To answer that question, let’s first address this one: How far does a sneeze travel?
Thanks to science, we have data that fills in the blanks. Well-publicized studies at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, Mass., in 2014 and 2016 have given us clarity and real data on the physics of sneezing. The MIT researchers’ discoveries addressed not only a sneeze’s potential distance, but how it travels.
How Far Does a Sneeze Travel?
The MIT research team, led by Dr. Lydia Bourouiba, set out in its 2014 study to measure how far a sneeze can travel. Dr. Bourouiba is an MIT professor and head of a department called Fluid Dynamics of Disease Transmission Laboratory. She and her colleagues engaged 100 heathy volunteers and recorded them as they sneezed. When researchers required a sneeze, a simple nose tickle did the trick. High-tech cameras captured the action—the speed and force of the mucus, droplets, and snot expelled from the subjects—in minute detail.
The shocking answer uncovered by MIT: Sneezes can travel up to 200 feet. That’s about two-thirds the length of a football field (imagine a quarterback in football airing out a bomb—strong-armed passers like Aaron Rodgers can heave a ball 67 yards in the air. That visual helps answer the question “How far does a sneeze travel?”)
So how does it happen that a sneeze can travel so far?
Just like the data we’re typing into our computer can be “carried off” to that the great storage universe called “the Cloud,” we send our germs out in a cloud every time we sneeze. That’s right: When we sneeze (and also when we cough), we release gas clouds that preserve potentially infectious droplets and carry them far greater distances that previously thought.
These stop-action images from MIT’s sneeze study give you an idea of the force of a “multiphase turbulent buoyant cloud”—the droplet-carrying vehicle we expel during a sneeze.
John Bush, MIT professor of applied mathematics, co-authored the paper reporting on the study’s results. “When you cough or sneeze,” he wrote, “you see the droplets, or feel them if someone sneezes on you. But you don’t see the cloud—the invisible gas phase. The influence of this gas cloud is to extend the range of the individual droplets, particularly the small ones.”
Without the gas cloud, these smaller droplets would have a better chance of falling harmlessly on the ground within a few feet of the sneezer. Unfortunately, the gas cloud allows them to become airborne pathogens that travel anywhere from five to 200 times the distance. (We can’t help but think of them as hot air balloons carrying “travelers” that just happen to be germs.)
How Far Does a Sneeze Travel? The Camera Doesn’t Lie
In conjunction with sneezing volunteers, MIT researchers used technology to capture sneeze results. According to an MIT News report, “The researchers used high-speed imaging of coughs and sneezes, as well as laboratory simulations and mathematical modeling, to produce a new analysis of coughs and sneezes from a fluid-mechanics perspective. Their conclusions upend some prior thinking on the subject. For instance, researchers had previously assumed that larger mucus droplets fly farther than smaller ones, because they have more momentum, classically defined as mass times velocity.”
Instead, the small droplets, airlifted by our gas clouds, can be carried greater distances than even than the larger drops.
The researchers, in their paper, even have a name for those sneezed-out gas bubbles: “multiphase turbulent buoyant clouds.” So the next time someone sneezes without covering his nose, it’s okay to politely request that he keep his multiphase turbulent buoyant cloud to himself.
Upon publication of the first study’s results, newspaper and website headline writers glommed onto the “200-foot sneeze” angle. But keep in mind that not all sneeze debris travels that far. “The largest droplets rapidly settle within [about 3 to 6 feet] away from the person,” Dr. Bourouiba wrote.
Plus, there are “smaller and evaporating droplets that become trapped in a turbulent puff cloud,” Dr. Bourouiba added, and they remain suspended. Over the course of seconds to a few minutes, these smaller droplets “can travel the dimensions of a room and land up to [f19 to 26 feet] away,” she noted.
When you feel a sneeze coming on, do a favor for those around you and let it escape into the crook of your arm.
How Far Does a Sneeze Travel, and Why Does It Matter?
Back to our original question: When we cross paths with a sneezing person, does it matter? Yes, and the sneezer doesn’t need to be a few feet away to spread his germs. The droplets can infect us even if the sneeze doesn’t land directly into our eyes or nose. MIT’s researchers point out that if the sneezer is all the way across a room, you’re still at risk.
Not to worry your inner germophobe, but… that “multiphase turbulent buoyant cloud” that’s carrying sneeze droplets can reach you from an entirely different room if common vents connect the rooms.
“The findings show that these clouds, particularly under usual conditions of temperature and buoyancy, have a tendency to go higher in the room and get sucked into the ventilation system,” according to co-author Bush. “I could be in this end of the building, and [yet] somebody could be in contact with my pathogens through from the ventilation system without me actually meeting that person.”
How far does a sneeze travel? The answer is enough to get you thinking about wearing a mask in public.
Multiple Sanitizing Products from BioNest Incubatees in the advent of outbreak of COVID-19(Coronavirus) infection in India
- All classes for MSc students remain suspended from March 12, 2020 to April 5, 2020. Further updates will be posted on April 1, 2020.
- All classes for PhD student trainees remain suspended from March 12, 2020 to April 5, 2020. Further updates will be posted on April 1, 2020.
- Users with facial recognition can continue to use the attendance system. The machine will be swiped clean every 30 minutes.
- Supervisors may send a weekly attendance sheet of all other staff/students/other personnel to the RGCB Administration.
- Disinfectants will be provided to all labs, common instrumentation rooms, library, cafeteria, hostel and wash rooms. Should this not be available, please contact the Office of the GM.
- Till further orders please visitors entering the institute is strictly restricted. All small deliveries including mail can be deposited at the main gate security room on main campus and at the reception security in the BIC campus. Larger boxes may be delivered directly to the stores through the store entry. All visitors to the hostel rooms will be banned from March 12, 2020 onwards.
- Entry of all non essential and unverified visitors including company representatives beyond the lobby is to be strictly regulated in both campuses. RGCB staff who have unavoidable meetings with such visitors may do so only in the lobby.
- If any RGCB personnel including PhD students (working in laboratories) is not feeling very well (common cold, runny nose, sneezing, coughing, headache, fatigue or related symptoms) please do not come to work at RGCB or any other place/facility that you have to go. Just let the administration know and we will give you full attendance to work from home and provide assistance with medical consultations if needed. For those staying in the hostel, please report immediately if you have any of the above listed symptoms to your warden and he/she will provide you with a single room and all needed assistance.
- Please avoid all non essential long distance travel outside your area of work. Any one leaving Thiruvananthapuram District must inform the RGCB Administration.
- This advisory will stay in force, and updated every 15 days.
- In case you become sick while you are at home, please do contact us over the phone from there before starting your return journey. RGCB will be with you in facing this crisis.
- Should you need any further information or assistance regarding any medical condition that you may be worried about, please get in touch with Dr. Iype Joseph, MB BS, MPhil, Assistant Director, Department of Health Services, Government of Kerala & on deputation to RGCB as Research Scientist - Medical Epidemiology (email@example.com or 94478 93448).