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Jakarta Post

Kemayoran emergency hospital studies conjunctival swab test to detect COVID-19

  • News Desk

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Tue, December 22, 2020   /   08:03 pm
Kemayoran emergency hospital studies conjunctival swab test to detect COVID-19 A COVID-19 patient prepares to leave the Pademangan quarantine compound at the former athlete's village in Kemayoran, North Jakarta, on Sept. 25. (JP/Seto Wardhana)

The COVID-19 emergency hospital at the Wisma Atlet Kemayoran in Central Jakarta has started a study on early COVID-19 detection through a conjunctival swab test, after patients reported experiencing eyesight issues prior to showing the disease’s usual symptoms. 

“This could be a cheap and quick screening method to detect COVID-19 in patients in order to advance treatment,” Tugas Ratmono, the coordinator of the COVID-19 emergency hospital, said as quoted by on Monday.

This research was based on a hypothesis that SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, can also spread to the patients’ eyes because the eyes and nasal cavity are connected by a canal. 

“People are prohibited from rubbing their eyes with their hands because the eyes could be an entrance for the coronavirus to enter human’s bodies,” Tugas said.

The research is being conducted by the hospital’s main researcher Rina La Distia Nora with her coworkers Rina Dwi Ningtias Mei Riasanti and Gladya Utami. The study is titled “Early SARS-CoV-2 Detection of Conjunctiva Swab Sample Through PT-PCR Examination”.

The study itself was conducted in hopes that swab tests could be done with a conjunctival swab. The sample will later be examined through the reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR), which is similar to the extraction of samples from the nasal cavity and throat.

Wisma Kemayoran, Tugas continued, was supporting the study so that it could be applied to detect COVID-19. 

Read also: COVID-19 patients in Jakarta dies within 11 days on average after having symptoms: Study

“This research is very important, not only to explore other possibilities to treat COVID-19 but also strategies to overcome other health threats,” Tugas said.

A study published in the monthly peer-reviewed medical publication Journal of Medical Virology in June also examined the possibilities of detecting SARS-CoV-2 RN in conjunctival secretions.

The research, “Detecting SARS-CoV-2 RNA in Conjunctival Secretions: Is It a Valuable Diagnostic Method of COVID-19?” aimed at evaluating the presence of the virus’s RN in conjunctival swab specimens. 

The study, which was conducted at the Hospital Clinico San Carlos of Madrid in Spain, was participated by 36 subjects from the COVID-19 admission unit who tested positive for the virus. It highlights how the SARS-CoV-RNA could be detected in conjunctival secretions of both patients with and without conjunctivitis. 

However, the research also found that PCR essay of tears and conjunctival secretions appear to have a fairly low potential to detect the virus.

The Kemayoran hospital administration head, RM Tjahja Nurrobi, said the hospital served as a research center to support the study because of the large number of COVID-19 patients treated there.

Tjahja said the hospital had conducted 70 studies to treat COVID-19 patients so far. (dpk)


Editor’s note: This article is part of a public campaign by the COVID-19 task force to raise people’s awareness about the pandemic.