Coronavirus: Scientists to map hospital spread

The work, which has been given urgent status by government, will use genetic material to track how the virus moves between staff, patients and wards.The work, which has been given urgent status by government, will use genetic material to track how the virus moves between staff, patients and wards.

It could help break more chains of transmission.

Hospitals already use tried and tested methods to minimise spread, including separating Covid patients from others.

The study, led by scientists at University College London, will evaluate if rapid viral genomic sequencing data can help locate and reduce the spread of Covid-19 within hospitals.

That means taking lots of nose and throat swabs from patients and hospital staff and looking at the genetic make-up of any coronavirus found.

Virus genomes constantly alter or mutate, changing a tiny bit at a time as they divide and spread by infecting more people.

And these changes can be exploited to track the spread of the virus.

Scientists can tell from these fingerprints whether infections from two different people are identical, meaning one of the individuals transmitted it to the other.

If the fingerprints are different, it rules this out.

Prof Judith Breuer, who is leading the work, said: "By sequencing Covid-19 viruses rapidly, we hope to establish how hospital staff and patients became infected.

Read the full story at https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-54439166

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