The Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) has installed at the Korea Institute of Radiological and Medical Services in Seoul's Nowon-gu District a mobile negative pressure isolation room for those critically ill with COVID-19. (KAIST)

By Lee Kyoung Mi and Lee Hana

Domestic researchers have developed a mobile negative pressure isolation room for critically ill COVID-19 patients to help solve the shortage of hospital beds due to a surge of cases needing intensive care. 

The Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) on Jan. 7 announced that it began testing the Mobile Clinic Module (MCM), a mobile negative pressure isolation room that allows medical workers to treat critically ill patients while preventing cross-contamination. 

By generating negative pressure in the room, air can flow into the ward but not escape from it, thus preventing contaminated air from leaking. 

Since Dec. 28, KAIST has tested the module at the Korea Institute of Radiological and Medical Services in Seoul's Nowon-gu District. The module is 450 square m (15 m X 30 m) in size and includes four negative pressure rooms, an office space, a changing room and a storage room for medical devices. 

Building the module took less than a month. The KAIST research team said 14 days are needed to make an MCM and installation and delivery are possible within five days. 

The module includes a negative pressure frame, air tents and panels used to build the MCM. The components can also be used to set up testing centers and negative pressure general wards. 

Nam Tek-jin, an industrial design professor at KAIST who headed the research team, said, "The MCM minimizes the need to add new extensions to wards and will become an essential part of quarantine measures against the infectious disease cycle. The MCM is the first of its kind in the world, and we will export our hardware and operational know-how as part of Korea's key quarantine products."

Once the testing period ends on Jan. 15, medical staff and patients will evaluate the module for utility, stability and satisfaction before the MCM's commercialization.

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