Written by NCKU News Center. Image credit to Chen Hung-Jui.
National Cheng Kung University (NCKU) incorporates saliva-based COVID-19 PCR test into the standard health examination for the new students of 2021 academic year. A negative PCR report is required before a new student enters the campus or dormitories. NCKU Hospital conducts PCR tests for the PhD and Master’s students who are scheduled to come to campus or begin laboratory work early. From July 21 to 23, NCKU Hospital has conducted PCR tests for around 900 students, ensuring campus safety and easing students’ mind to help them focus on studies and research in midst of a pandemic.
NCKU students in line at the health exmination station
According to Ching-Chang Lee, spokesperson of NCKU, the graduate students receive a PCR test in the morning and will receive its results at night of the same day. If the result comes back negative, the student will be allowed to start their research in the laboratory, following the university’s technological COVID-19 prevention policies. NCKU Hospital meticulously planned out the traffic flow and testing time period in order not to clash with the hospital’s rush hour. Close cooperation allowed NCKU Hospital to operate with outstanding efficiency, aiming for testing in the morning and announcing results in the afternoon of the same day. NCKU Hospital strives to keep the university safe and make sure the new students can enter the campus on schedule.
A student from NCKU Department of Urban Planning expressed that it is a citizen’s duty to understand one’s own body conditions in order to protect people around them during the time when an infectious disease is rampant. Instead of merely relying on the efforts by the government, school, or others, a citizen should adopt the attitude to accept taking a PCR test to ensure one’s health conditions and to prevent the harm brought by the virus. If one happens to have been infected, taking the PCR test will allow for early responses that can stop greater damage.
The waiting area is set up outdoor for better air flow and to prevent cluster infection
The items listed in the NCKU health examination are categorized as either the general items or highly-infectious diseases, and the PCR test for COVID-19 falls into the latter. Due to the pandemic, the PCR test for COVID-19 is prioritized in the health examination for new students this year, according to Ching-Chang Lee. The other general items such as height, weight, and blood tests will be conducted after mid-September.
Ching-Chang Lee gave an analysis indicating that conducting PCR tests for NCKU faculty, staff, and students is a strategic action with consideration of risk of infection under comprehensive assessment of these people's living and movement. The university decided to give priority to PCR testing for groups at higher risk of infection, including new faculty, all new students and current students who live in the dormitory and with risks in their movements.
Students collect saliva for PCR tests in separated cubicles
Jing-Wei Lee, Vice Superintendent of NCKU Hospital, pointed out that PCR tests are of high costs, as space, equipment, and personnel are all required. “Behind a smooth operation, there is complex strategies, negotiations, adjustments, and hardware supplies. We try our best to raise the medical energy of a university’s hospital.” NCKU has employed huge task professional task force for the tests and has imported testing equipment from Europe, pushing its PCR testing capacity from 80 tests per day at first to 2,000 tests per day currently. After the outbreak in May, NCKU Hospital has to maintain its outpatient treatment and outdoor screening stations while keeping the operation for vaccine administration. “There are no difficult things in the world, but there are no easy things either,” Jing-Wei Lee expressed.
Taking into account that the COVID-19 PCR test is listed to be administered to a lot of people, NCKU decided to use the saliva testing method in order not to cause discomfort for those who are tested.