You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Chinese Scientists Develop Mask That Detects Covid, Flu Exposure

Bloomberg logoBloomberg 5 days ago Low De Wei
A healthworker collects swab sample from a resident for a Covid-19 test in a neighborhood placed under lockdown in Shanghai, on April 9. © Bloomberg A healthworker collects swab sample from a resident for a Covid-19 test in a neighborhood placed under lockdown in Shanghai, on April 9.

(Bloomberg) -- Chinese researchers have developed a mask that lets users know if they’ve been exposed to Covid-19 or the flu, a development that could help vulnerable populations even as the use of face coverings falls and more nations ease virus restrictions.

Most Read from Bloomberg

A sensor built into a mask was able to detect the Covid-19, H5N1 and H1N1 influenza viruses in the air within 10 minutes and send notifications to a device, according to the study led by six scientists working with Tongji University in Shanghai. The peer-reviewed findings were published in the scientific journal Matter on Monday.

While the pandemic prompted the widespread wearing of masks and a proliferation of designs -- including a version with a microphone developed by Razer Inc. -- the easing of Covid-related mandates in most major economies has led to a drop-off in use. 

Still, mask use remains widespread in countries including China, which retains a strict Covid Zero policy, while many people around the world continue to wear them to protect themselves and others from the virus regardless of government rules. An Axios-Ipsos survey in early September found that 37% of Americans wear a mask outside the home at least sometimes, down from 89% two years ago.

China’s Deadly Quarantine Bus Crash Stokes Covid Zero Anger

The new device, which is mounted outside the mask with a rechargable lithium battery, was tested by spraying pathogens on it in an indoor setting, simulating a likely scenario where someone is talking or coughing. Sensors responded to liquid about 70 to 560 times less than the amount produced in a sneeze, sending alerts to wireless devices like a phone. 

The researchers said that the device was best used in enclosed spaces where the risk of infection is high, and are working on shortening the detection times and sensitivity of the device, which can be configured for different viruses if necessary. No cost estimates were published on the accessory.

Most Read from Bloomberg Businessweek

©2022 Bloomberg L.P.

AdChoices
AdChoices
image beaconimage beaconimage beacon