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SEOUL, April 23 (Yonhap) — Seoul National University announced Friday that it will conduct weekly coronavirus tests that will produce results in about an hour as part of efforts to detect infections early. and expand in-person classes on campus.
It is the first such move by one of the country’s higher education institutions, which has been reeling from declining enrollment and student protests over expensive tuition and courses. extended online.
The move comes amid concerns over a new spike in COVID-19 cases. South Korea reported 797 new cases on Friday, the most since early January.
The school, one of the most prestigious universities in the country, set up a testing center on campus on Thursday that will offer rapid molecular tests based on technology called Loop Mediated Isothermal Amplification (LAMP).
According to the school, the test is very sensitive to even a small amount of virus and is effective because it produces rapid results, with samples being processed on site.
After two trial days on Thursday and Friday, the school will officially launch the program on Monday for about 2,700 graduate students, faculty members and heads of its science department. For those who sign up, weekly tests will be available.
The measure, the school said, is intended to assure students and teachers that the campus is a safe place to go about their business and begin to resume their pre-pandemic activities.
He noted, however, that the rapid test should remain a supportive measure, and those with positive test results from the school’s testing center will be referred to a nearby public health center to receive virus testing. more precise laboratory.
“We thought the school needed a phased exit plan to normalize its operations,” said Lee Hyun-sook, associate dean of the university’s college of natural sciences, adding that “regularly testing the same group” was one of the viable options.
“We think that in the second semester, school should be different from last year,” she said.
During his visit to the testing site, Oh Se-jung, the university’s president, said he expected the rapid tests to expand to other departments, such as colleges of music and sports where in-person instruction remains crucial.
“I hope the trial at SNU will lay the groundwork for similar attempts to be introduced at other institutions,” he said.