- DRDO develops safe swab sample collection kiosks named COVSACK
- Kerala had innovated it as WISK a week ago, modelling South Korea
- Patients walk into COVSACK and health professionals safely sit inside WISK
- No need for PPEs for sample collection, besides ensuring safety of sample collector
Protection of health worker is a big concern worldwide while dealing with COVID-19 patients. Within a week of South Korea developing walk-in kisoks to collect swab samples without human intervention, Kerala emulated them with WISK sample kiosks a week ago. Now the Defence Research and Development Laboratory (DRDL) in Hyderabad has come up with COVID Sample Collection Kiosk (COVSACK), in consultation with the doctors of Employees' State Insurance Corporation (ESIC), Hyderabad.
In this, the suspected infected patients have to walk into the kiosk and a nasal or oral swab is taken by healthcare professionals from outside through the built-in gloves. The kiosk is automatically disinfected without the need for human involvement, making the process free of infection spread. The shielding screen of kiosk cabin protects the health care worker from the aerosols and droplet transmission while taking the sample.This reduces the requirement for Rs 1000-plus worth personal protection equipment (PPE) that has to be changed by healthcare workers after each sample collection, says Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).
After the patient leaves the kiosk, four nozzle sprayers mounted in the kiosk cabin disinfect the empty chamber by spraying disinfectant mist for a period of 70 seconds. It is further flushed with water & UV light disinfection. The system is ready for next use in less than two minutes. Voice command can be given through two-way communication system integrated with the COVSACK. It is possible to configure COVSACK to be used either from inside or outside as required by the medical professionals.
The COVSACK costs nearly Rs 1 lakh and a manufacturer based at Belgaum, Karnataka is gearing up to make 10 units per day. The DRDO has designed and developed two units and handed over these to ESIC Hospital, Hyderabad after successful testing.
The Ernakulam government medical college hospital in Kerala last week had developed its WISK, with the help of district administration based on social media footage on COVID-19 sample collection methods used in South Korea. In the Kerala version, costing Rs 40,000, the kiosk has an ultraviolet light unit, gloves and exhaust fan and is almost like a Personal Protective Equipment small suit. In that, the health worker sits inside the kiosk and collect the throat swab using the gloves attached to the unit. The gloves would be sanitised after every sample collection. Another advantage is the unit can be mounted in an ambulance to go to hotspot areas and collect samples, instead of suspected patients transported in ambulances to nearby designated testing centres. Kerala has also made two units and is in discussion with NGOs to set up more such units.
Meanwhile, the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) under the Ministry of Defence has started supply of coveralls conforming to ISO Class 3 exposure standards. Manufacture of initial order of 1.10 lakh from HLL Lifecare Limited (HLL), the government's nodal agency to procure medical equipment fighting COVID-19, is in full swing and will be completed in 40 days.
The Factories Board has also developed special two-metre tents which can be used for medical emergency, screening, hospital triage and quarantine purposes. These are made up of waterproof fabric, mild steel and aluminium alloy. Supplies have already started, said a communication from the government.