Indonesian researchers have invented a tool to detect COVID-19 infection through a patient’s breath.

The tool, called GeNose C19, had received a distribution permit from Indonesia’s Health Ministry on Dec. 24, and will soon be mass-produced, said Research and Technology Minister Bambang Brodjonegoro.

“We are going to boost the device for being publicly used so that economic activities could run smoothly, while also preventing potential transmission of the virus, Bambang asserted in a virtual news conference Monday.

A research team at Gadjah Mada University has been developing the GeNose C19 for over the past nine months, the minister added.

Minister Bambang said this tool would only be used for rapid detection purposes, adding that the diagnosis of a case would remain to be confirmed through PCR test results.

So far, the detection of COVID-19 has depended on rapid antibody and antigen tests imported from abroad, the minister said.

The Health Ministry will be testing the validity of GeNose C19 at the Health Research and Development Agency to ensure its accuracy before incorporating it into the COVID-19 inspection ecosystem.

“The test is to make it more accurate and the level of trust in domestic products is also better,” said Deputy Health Minister Dante Saksono.

How GeNose C19 works

A member of the GeNose C19 research team, Dian Kusumapramidya Nurputra, said GeNose C19 had undergone a diagnostic test in eight hospitals with a total of nearly 2,000 nasopharyngeal samples.

Diagnostic tests show GeNose has a sensitivity to read a positive sign of COVID-19 up to 92%, then a specificity to read a negative sign up to 94%, he said.

“Our next step is to coordinate with the Ministry of Health to incorporate GeNose into the COVID-19 inspection ecosystem in Indonesia, of course, based on this diagnostic test,” he added.

GeNose works by detecting Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) which is formed due to COVID-19 infection through exhalation into a special bag.

According to Dian, there has been research across the world supporting this innovation that the breath of COVID patients has high levels of specific VOCs.

“The results of GeNose test would be taken in less than five minutes,” Dian added.

Students longing for in-person education

The majority of students agree with the government’s plan to resume in-person education in January 2021 amid the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a survey conducted by the Indonesian Child Protection Commission (KPAI).

KPAI Commissioner for Education Retno Listyarti said 78.17% of students agreed to come back to school, while 10% disagreed, and 16.13% were undecided.

“Respondents who agreed generally argued that they were tired of distance learning, while practicum or certain materials were difficult to do through online classes,” said Retno.

Students who disagreed were worried that the transmission of COVID-19 was still high, while other respondents were hesitant about the limited readiness of schools in preparing new adaptation health infrastructure and protocols.

The survey involved 62,448 respondents and was carried out on Dec. 11-18.

As many as 45% of respondents were elementary school students, 46% junior high school students, and 5.6% high school.

Others are students from vocational schools (6.7%), special schools (0.08%), and madrasah (1.44%).

*Writing by Dandy Koswaraputra from Anadolu Agency’s Indonesian language service in Jakarta.

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