DPP Will Start Sampling for Covid on Public Transport Surfaces

Beginning in April, Prague Public Transport will begin conducting Covid sampling on public transportation, taking swabs of contact surfaces rather than passengers.

In a partnership with the Academy of Sciences and the Institute of Physics, DPP will attempt to collect at least 500 samples on trams, buses, and trains running throughout the city.

The program is said to be inspired by findings from other major metropolitan cities like London, where researchers found no evidence of the virus on public transportation.

Scientist will use biosensors and air extraction mechanisms to detect the presence of the Coronavirus. Within the trains they will be taking swabs of seats, poles, buttons, and handles. At metro stations, things like staircases, handrails, and benches will be sampled as well.

Airborne samples will also be taken while passengers are onboard the buses, trams and trains.  To accomplish this, scientists will be using a technology developed by the Institute of Physics.

“Their (biosensors) is based on a specially designed polymer nanobrush that specifically captures coronavirus particles contained in a liquefied sample, ignoring everything else,” Alexandr Dejnek, head of research at the Institute of Physics told novinky.cz.

Similar research was conducted in shopping malls in a project funded by the Association of Shopping Centers. The study sampled surfaces like, bathroom door handles, escalators, and elevator buttons and found no trace of the virus among the several dozens of samples.

The program is expected to be fully up and running in April and 150 samples will be taken from buses along with another 150 from trams. Trains will provide at least 100 samples and down in the metro, at least 50 samples will be taken.

The metro stations chosen for sampling is based on strategic locations such as stops near large hospitals or areas with heavy foot traffic.

This program would be expanding on the existing safety measures Prague Public Transport has taken since the start of the pandemic.  DPP has cleaned and disinfected their trains and buses daily, provided over 150 disinfectant dispensers near metro stations, and have begun selling respirators to passengers directly.

Most of the data will be compiled in České Budějovice at the University of South Bohemia as well as by scientists from the Institute of Physics. 

According to DPP spokesman Daniel Šabík, they expect to produce findings sometime between May and June of this year.

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