COVID-19 in the urban built environment (CUBE): SARS-CoV-2 prevalence in high traffic hospital settings

Kassen, Rees | $50,000

Ontario University of Ottawa 2020 NSERC Alliance COVID-19 Grant

Understanding the distribution and prevalence of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, in and around COVID‑19 treatment centers is a high priority for physicians, other front-line health care workers, hospital administrators, and public health agencies. Put simply, we need to know whether and where the virus is present in order to safeguard front line workers and reduce spread. Our project will provide this data. Working with industry partner DNA Genotek and hospital-based surveillance programs and infection prevention and control (IPAC) programs at The Ottawa Hospital, we will refine technologies for recoverhing viral genetic material from commonly-touched built surfaces in the hospital setting and track the prevalence of the virus over time in high traffic areas in and around hospital treatment sites. This work is directly aligned with a OneHealth perspective linking environmental and human health and represents a proof-of-principle initiative in surveillance biogeography of the urban microbiome that could be expanded to additional high traffic sites beyond the hospital such as schools, community centres, and shopping malls.

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