Rapid COVID Testing Coming To Airport Near You, XpresCheck Test Could Boost Air Travel

KEY POINTS

  • XpresCheck rapid COVID tests began at JFK and Liberty airports Wednesday
  • The company hopes to expand nationwide
  • The test delivers results in 13 minutes

The airline industry, devastated by the coronavirus pandemic, is about to get a boost: Health and wellness company XpresSpa Group Inc. began conducting rapid COVID-19 testing at Kennedy International Airport in New York and Newark Liberty Airport in New Jersey, with plans to expand the program nationwide.

With the pandemic still raging across the United States, Americans have been reluctant to get on airplanes, with the total number of passengers averaging about 25% of last year’s levels.

More than 7.5 million Americans have been infected by the coronavirus and more than 211,000 have died from COVID-19.

Though the virus doesn’t spread easily on flights because of air circulation systems, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns exposure to people in close quarters and frequently touched services put travelers at increased risk. The CDC estimated last month 11,000 people potentially had been exposed to the virus on flights.

XpresSpa began performing its ExpresCheck rapid COVID-19 tests Wednesday, expanding its polymerase chain reaction and blood antibody testing programs.

“We believe rapid COVID-19 testing at airports can play a major role in slowing the virus spread and decreasing the risk of new community outbreaks linked to travel as cases continue to rise throughout many states,” XpresSpa CEO Doug Satzman said in a press release.

He added: “Having a rapid test inside the airport immediately upon travel could also eliminate the need for a full 14-day quarantine in states where that applies.”

The tests would be voluntary for both travelers and airport workers. The company currently is focusing on airline employees and those who are showing COVID-like symptoms.

The test uses Abbott’s portable rapid molecular ID Now COVID test, which delivers results in 13 minutes. The test, however, has yet to gain full Food and Drug Administration approval although it has been cleared for emergency use, and has been criticized for false negatives, which are possible until an infection has reached its height and depending on how the test is performed.

Even with rapid COVID-19 tests available, travelers would still need to wear masks and practice social distancing.

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CDC Revises Guidance, Says COVID-19 Can Spread Through Virus Lingering in Air | Top News

(Reuters) – U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Monday said COVID-19 can spread through virus lingering in the air, sometimes for hours, acknowledging concerns widely voiced by public health experts about airborne transmission of the virus.

The CDC guidance comes weeks after the agency published – and then took down – a similar warning, sparking debate over how the virus spreads.

In Monday’s guidance, CDC said there was evidence that people with COVID-19 possibly infected others who were more than 6 feet away, within enclosed spaces with poor ventilation.

Under such circumstances, CDC said scientists believe the amount of infectious smaller droplet and particles, or aerosols, produced by the people with COVID-19 become concentrated enough to spread the virus.

The CDC has long warned of transmission through small droplets that shoot through the air and generally fall to the ground, which resulted in the six-feet social distancing rule. Aerosol droplets are much smaller still, and can remain suspended in the air, like smoke.

While CDC stresses close-contact transmission is more common than through air, a group of U.S. scientists warned in an unrelated open letter published in medical journal Science on Monday that aerosols lingering in the air could be a major source of COVID-19 transmission. (https://bit.ly/34pSPbH)

“The reality is airborne transmission is the main way that transmission happens at close range with prolonged contact,” the researchers said in a press call.

Viruses in aerosols can remain in the air for seconds to hours, travel more than two meters and accumulate in poorly ventilated indoor air, leading to superspreading events, the researchers said.

Since individuals with COVID-19 release thousands of virus-laden aerosols and far fewer droplets while breathing and talking, the scientists said the focus must be on protecting against airborne transmission.

They also said that public health officials should clearly differentiate between droplets ejected by coughing or sneezing and aerosols that can carry the virus to greater distances

Public health officials must highlight the importance of moving activities outdoors and improving indoor air, along with wearing mask and social distancing, the letter said.

(Reporting by Vishwadha Chander in Bengaluru; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli)

Copyright 2020 Thomson Reuters.

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‘Dramatic’ plunge in London air pollution since 2016, report finds

Air pollution in London has plunged since Sadiq Khan became mayor, with a 94% reduction in the number of people living in areas with illegal levels of nitrogen dioxide. The number of schools in such areas has fallen by 97%, from 455 in 2016 to 14 in 2019.



the tower of the city: Photograph: Toby Melville/Reuters


© Provided by The Guardian
Photograph: Toby Melville/Reuters

Experts described the reductions as dramatic and said they showed the air pollution crisis was not intractable. More than 9,000 people in the capital were dying early each year due to dirty air in 2015.

The report from the mayor of London, reviewed by scientists, shows that more than 2 million people in the capital lived with polluted air in 2016, but this fell to 119,000 in 2019. The report, which does not include the further falls in pollution seen after the Covid-19 lockdown began in March, shows levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) by roads in central London fell by 44% between early 2017 and early 2020.



the tower of the city: Air pollution obscures the City of London skyline, as seen from Primrose Hill in the north of the capital.


© Photograph: Toby Melville/Reuters
Air pollution obscures the City of London skyline, as seen from Primrose Hill in the north of the capital.

The pollution cuts have been achieved by charges that have deterred dirty vehicles from entering the city centre and have driven up the use of cleaner vehicles. Putting low-emission buses on the dirtiest routes, ending the licensing of new diesel taxis and extending the amount of protected space for cycling have also contributed.

However, Khan said there was still a long way to go, particularly as 99% of London had particle pollution levels above the World Health Organization’s recommended limits, which are much tighter than the UK limit.

Almost a quarter of roads in inner London – between the north and south circular roads – still exceed the legal limit for (NO2), which is mostly produced by diesels. But the ultralow emission zone (Ulez), in which charges are levied for polluting vehicles, is to be expanded to cover all of inner London from October 2021.

Air pollution is the biggest environmental risk to health, according to the WHO, and it may be damaging every organ in the body, a comprehensive global review concluded in 2019. Most urban areas in the UK have had illegal levels of NO2 since 2010 and the government has repeatedly been defeated in the high court over the adequacy of its plans.

There is also growing evidence that dirty air worsens infection and death rates from coronavirus, and that people from minority ethnic communities fare the worst. Those people are more likely to live in areas with high air pollution.

“Today’s report confirms the transformative impact that my policies have had on our toxic air crisis,” said Khan, who was elected in May 2016. “I’m pleased that Londoners are breathing cleaner air and that we’re saving the NHS billions of pounds.”

“However, air pollution remains a major public health challenge and it’s time for the government to step up,. We can’t sleepwalk from the

Air pollutants, metals reach the placenta, study finds

Metals and other air pollutants have been found in the placentas of new mothers, which means such pollutants may be able to reach the fetus, researchers report.

“Our study for the first time shows that inhaled carbon particulate matter in air pollution travels in the blood stream, and is taken up by important cells in the placenta. We hope that this information will encourage policy makers to reduce road traffic emissions,” said lead author Dr. Jonathan Grigg, a professor of pediatric respiratory and environmental medicine at Queen Mary University of London.

His team analyzed placentas donated by 15 healthy women in London who had just given birth. Black particles that closely resembled particulate air pollution were found in an average of 1% of cells in all 15 placentas.

Most of the particles were carbon-based. But there were also trace amounts of metals, including silica, phosphorus, calcium, iron and chromium, and more rarely, titanium, cobalt, zinc and cerium.

Many of the metals are associated with vehicle-emitted air pollution from fossil fuel combustion and brake wear, according to the study published recently in the journal Science of The Total Environment.

Co-author Norrice Liu said there had been a known link between maternal exposure to high pollution levels and problems with the fetus, including low birthweight.

“We have thought for a while that maternal inhalation could potentially result in pollution particles traveling to the placenta once inhaled,” added Lisa Miyashita, a postdoctoral research assistant.

“However, there are many defense mechanisms in the lung that prevent foreign particles from traveling elsewhere, so it was surprising to identify these particles in the placental cells from all 15 of our participants,” Miyashita said.

More information

The March of Dimes has more on air pollution and pregnancy.

Copyright 2020 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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