A company based in Louvain-la-Neuve is on the point of bringing to to the market in the Benelux a technology that can reputedly detect the presence of Covid-19 in the air in minutes.
Covid-19 is an airborne disease, passed from one person to another by personal contact, especially via aerosols of tiny airborne particles emitted in the breath – in particular from coughing and sneezing – carried in the air.
The technology, therefore, simply detects the presence of the virus in the air inside a space like an office or a meeting room, in the same way as a smoke detector detects the presence of smoke.
The detector was developed by Canadian company BioCloud Kontroler, based in Vaughan, Ontario. The technology is already in use by the Canadian Olympic squad in Tokyo.
The idea caught the attention of Jean Martin, CEO of Mirrhia, a company based in the university town of Louvain-la-Neuve which specialises in the monitoring of clean rooms used for the development of microchips and pharmaceuticals.
Mirrhia has now obtained a licence to commercialise the BioCloud Kontroler in the three Benelux countries. And that is not all: the company has also contributed tech of its own, that allows an alarm to be sent from the device in the room to a person of responsibility, rather than simply sounding in the room like a smoke detector.
“In a room measuring up to 160 m³, the device will detect in three minutes with certainty whether there is a problem or not,” explained Martin. “And it can react faster, it depends on whether people are next to the device or across the room."
Once that is done, the people in the room can be taken to a safe space where they can be inspected.
The change is the difference between a rapid response or one that can take several days, while the infected person inadvertently goes on to infect many more people without anyone knowing.
“Currently, when you run into someone who has Covid, you don't know until three or four days later. And in the meantime, you may have spread the disease to other people if you caught it yourself. Here, we intervene within five minutes, we avoid the phenomenon of contagion and we avoid this three-day delay before being able to react."
That, he says, allows a business to recover quickly from a potential outbreak. Anyone infected can be quarantined immediately, while the others in the room are free to go about their business.