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BenQ launches eye-care monitor to protect consumers' eye health - BSA bureau
The GW2780T eye-care monitor offers the user many vision health-focused features
The GW2780T eye-care monitor offers the user many vision health-focused features Singapore-based BenQ, the world-leading provider of digital lifestyle innovations, has announced the launch of GW2780T Eye-care Monitor and Monitor Light ScreenBar, a powerful combination to safeguard eye health for any work and study environment. GW2780T is the 27-inch edition of its popular predecessor GW2480T 24-inch monitor, featuring the latest eye-care technologies and height adjustment stand; complemented by the ScreenBar, an intelligent clip-on monitor light with advanced sensors and dimmable features designed for consumers' viewing comfort. The latest model in BenQ's G-Series LED monitors, the GW2780T Eye-care Monitor offers the user many vision health-focused features, including BenQ's exclusive Brightness Intelligence Technology (BI). The GW2780T Eye-care Monitor uses BI to automatically adjust the screen light to suit the user's surrounding environment, adapting brightness and enhancing dark areas on the display without overexposing bright regions. Both the GW2480T and GW2780T Eye-care Monitors offer pairing options with laptops, tablets, and even smartphones, allowing the user to enjoy the comfort of big-screen projection, with the help of Flicker-Free Technology and Low Blue Light Technology. Furthermore, the ScreenBar is a cutting-edge e-reading monitor light that features an exclusive auto-dimming feature, asymmetrical optical design, and a patented clip, removing the need for a lamp base and additional table space. The Monitor Light ScreenBar is 14 adjustable brightness levels and has 8 colour temperature levels (from 2.7K to 6.5K), maximising the user's efficiency and comfort.
Australia invents app for analysing coronavirus genome - BSA bureau
The Genopo app took an average 27 minutes to determine the complete SARS-CoV-2 genome sequence from the raw data
The Genopo app took an average 27 minutes to determine the complete SARS-CoV-2 genome sequence from the raw data A new mobile app has made it possible to analyse the genome of the SARS-CoV-2 virus on a smartphone in less than half an hour. The app Genopo, developed by the Australia based Garvan Institute of Medical Research, in collaboration with the University of Peradeniya in Sri Lanka, makes genomics more accessible to remote or under-resourced regions, as well as the hospital bedside. “Not everyone has access to the high-power computing resources that are required for DNA and RNA analysis, but most people have access to a smartphone,” says co-senior author Dr Ira Deveson, who heads the Genomic Technologies Group at Garvan’s Kinghorn Centre for Clinical Genomics. The researchers tested Genopo on the raw sequencing data of virus samples isolated from nine Sydney patients infected with SARS-CoV-2, which involved extracting and amplifying the virus RNA from a swab sample, sequencing the amplified DNA with a MinION device and analysing the data on a smartphone. The researchers tested their app on different Android devices, including models from Nokia, Huawei, LG and Sony. The Genopo app took an average 27 minutes to determine the complete SARS-CoV-2 genome sequence from the raw data, which the researchers say opens the possibility to do genomic analysis at the point of care, in real time. The researchers also showed that Genopo can be used to profile DNA methylation – a modification which changes gene activity – in a sample of the human genome.
Singapore and Apple partner on national health initiative - BSA bureau
LumiHealth app encourages healthy lifestyle changes through technology
The government of Singapore and Apple® have announced their partnership on the health initiative LumiHealth, a personalized program to encourage healthy activity and behaviors using Apple Watch®. The first-of-its-kind program was designed by Singapore’s Health Promotion Board in conjunction with Apple as part of the country’s Smart Nation initiative, a national effort to leverage technology to deliver benefits to its citizens and businesses. Created in collaboration with a team of physicians and public health experts, LumiHealth uses technology and behavioral insights to encourage Singaporeans to keep healthy and complete wellness challenges through their Apple Watch and iPhone®. The LumiHealth app, designed with user privacy and security at its core, is available in the App Store® for pre-order now, and the two-year program will be offered from late October 2020. LumiHealth harnesses the power of Apple Watch to encourage and empower Singaporeans and residents to adopt healthy habits through personalized reminders, programs, activity coaching, and incentives.
Singapore develop novel method to produce RBCs - BSA bureau
New technology cuts down on cell culture time by half and uses more targeted cell sorting and purification methods
New technology cuts down on cell culture time by half and uses more targeted cell sorting and purification methods Researchers from Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology (SMART), MIT’s research enterprise in Singapore, have discovered a new way to manufacture human red blood cells (RBCs) that cuts the culture time by half compared to existing methods and uses novel sorting and purification methods that are faster, more precise and less costly. Manufacturing RBCs is time-consuming and creates undesirable by-products, with current purification methods being costly and not optimal for large scale therapeutic applications. SMART’s researchers have thus designed an optimised intermediary cryogenic storage protocol using liquid nitrogen that reduces the cell culture time to 11 days post-thaw, eliminating the need for continuous 23-day blood manufacturing. This is aided by complementary technologies the team developed for highly efficient, low-cost RBC purification and more targeted sorting. In a paper titled “Microfluidic label-free bioprocessing of human reticulocytes from erythroid culture” recently published in the prestigious journal Lab on a Chip, the researchers explain the huge technical advancements they have made towards improving RBC manufacturing. The study was carried out by researchers from two of SMART’s Interdisciplinary Research Groups (IRGs) – Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) and Critical Analytics for Manufacturing Personalised-Medicine (CAMP) – co-led by Principal Investigators Jongyoon Han, a Professor at MIT, and Peter Preiser, a Professor at NTU. The team also included AMR and CAMP IRG faculty appointed at the National University of Singapore (NUS) and Nanyang Technological University (NTU). Dr Kerwin Kwek is the lead author of the paper and Senior Postdoctoral Associate at SMART CAMP. The researchers also developed novel purification and sorting methods by modifying existing Dean Flow Fractionation (DFF) and Deterministic Lateral Displacement (DLD); developing a trapezoidal cross-section design and microfluidic chip for DFF sorting, and a unique sorting system achieved with an inverse L-shape pillar structure for DLD sorting. SMART’s new sorting and purification techniques using the modified DFF and DLD methods leverage the RBC’s size and deformability for purification instead of spherical size. As most human cells are deformable, this technique can have wide biological and clinical applications such as cancer cell and immune cell sorting and diagnostics. On testing the purified RBCs, they were found to retain their cellular functionality, as demonstrated by high malaria parasite infectivity which requires highly pure and healthy cells for infection. This confirms SMART’s new RBC sorting and purifying technologies are ideal for investigating malaria pathology. Compared with conventional cell purification by fluorescence-activated cell sorting (FACS), SMART’s enhanced DFF and DLD methods offer comparable purity while processing at least twice as many cells per second at less than a third of the cost. In scale-up manufacturing processes, DFF is more optimal for its high volumetric throughput, whereas in cases where cell purity is pivotal, DLD's high precision feature is most advantageous. The results of their research would give scientists faster access to final cell products that are fully functional with high purity at a reduced cost of production.
ATrack establishes new brand to kill coronavirus - BSA bureau
UV1 will be available for pre-purchase in September.
UV1 will be available for pre-purchase in September. ATrack Technology Inc., an Internet of Vehicles (IoV) company based in Taiwan, has established the new brand UVengers that provides disease prevention products to help people stay safe from pathogen-related illnesses during the current pandemic and in the post-pandemic world. UVengers' first product UV1, equipped with high UV output LEDs from renowned Japanese UV-C LED manufacturer Asahi Kasei, can kill 99.8% of the COVID-19 virus in 3 seconds, according to research undertaken by Taiwan-based Chang Gung University. UV1 will be available for pre-purchase in September. Each of UV1's UV-C LEDs has market leading UV output power of 60mW, and emits UV light at 265nm wavelength which has the best germicidal effect against pathogens. In order to verify UV1's ability to kill SARS-CoV-2, ATrack commissioned Chang Gung University to test the device against live virus in a Biosafety Level 3 lab. The results showed 99.8% of SARS-CoV-2 reduction rate after irradiation by UV1 for 3 seconds, making the device one of the few UV disinfection devices on the market that has been confirmed to kill the COVID-19 virus. Dr. Hsin-Chih Lai of the Department of Medical Biotechnology and Laboratory Science at Chang Gung University who led the testing program said, "In addition to SARS-CoV-2, UV-C can also remove other kinds of bacteria and viruses such as Staphylococcus aureus, influenza A and B, enterovirus, norovirus and rotavirus. The results demonstrated that the virus removal rate reached 99.8% in 3 seconds and 99.9% in 5 seconds. It is estimated that 99% of SARS-CoV-2 can be killed in one second." ATrack noted that UV1 is a rare high-quality UV-C disinfection device on the market. Users can disinfect the surrounding environment and frequently used items on demand and as frequently as they deem necessary, lowering the risk of infection by reducing the amount of pathogens while further inhibiting the invasion of various bacteria and viruses from the external environment. As the pandemic continues to spread worldwide, ATrack will continue to launch new disease prevention products for use in different scenarios, in a move to meet the needs of the public in combating pathogens and help people create a safer and healthier environment.
Singapore develop new system to conduct accurate telomere profiling in less than 3 hr - BSA bureau
The novel STAR assay developed by Singapore's NUS can rapidly determine telomere dysregulation in cancers and age-related diseases in clinical settings
The novel STAR assay developed by Singapore's NUS can rapidly determine telomere dysregulation in cancers and age-related diseases in clinical settings Telomeres being repetitive DNA sequences at the end of the chromosome protects the genetic material against genome instability, preventing cancers and regulating the aging process. Each time a cell divides in our body, the telomeres shorten, thus functioning like a molecular “clock” of the cell as the shortening increases progressively with aging. An accurate measure of the quantity and length of these telomeres can provide vital information if a cell is aging normally, or abnormally, as in the case of cancer. To come up with an innovative way to diagnose telomere abnormalities, a research team led by Assistant Professor Cheow Lih Feng from the NUS Institute for Health Innovation & Technology (iHealthtech) has developed a novel method to measure the absolute telomere length of individual telomeres in less than three hours. This unique telomere profiling method can process up to 48 samples from low amounts (<1 ng) of DNA. Their work was published in the journal Science Advances on 21 August 2020. “Our innovation could greatly enhance the speed of diagnosis and simultaneously provide critical telomere information for age-related diseases and cancers. Such a clinically reliable tool that is able to provide accurate telomere profiling will allow for precision therapy and targeted treatments for patients,” explained Asst Prof Cheow, who is also from the NUS Department of Biomedical Engineering. Overcoming the limitations of conventional telomere tests To overcome the major technical impediments in performing telomere profiling, Asst Prof Cheow and his team have developed a unique system called Single Telomere Absolute-length Rapid (STAR) assay, supported by the National Medical Research Council. Using this method, individual telomere molecules are first distributed into thousands of nanolitre chambers in a microfluidic chip. Real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) of single telomere molecules is then performed across all the chambers in a massively parallel manner. The PCR amplification kinetics in each nanolitre chamber reflects the telomere repeat number, which directly correlate to the length of a single telomere molecule. Using the STAR assay, the researchers can accurately determine the telomere maintenance mechanism in cancer cells and obtain a high level of detailed information in the measurements. Patients who have cancers activated by the Alternative Lengthening of Telomere (ALT) pathway – such as certain sarcomas (cancer of connective tissues) and gliomas (cancer of brains) – are often shown to have poor prognosis that is linked to longer than average telomere length and a high percentage of critically short telomeres. In addition, their cancer cells also were found to possess extra copies of telomere molecules. NUS iHealthtech team tested the innovation on patients and the validation has proven the STAR assay to be effective in diagnosing the ALT status in paediatric neuroblastoma, which can serve as a useful prognosis indicator for this cancer. "Previously less recognised in patients, telomere abnormalities like ALT have been recently identified to be a new risk marker in neuroblastoma. Since neuroblastoma with telomere abnormalities have poorer outcomes, this new method of measuring telomeres can now facilitate simpler and more rapid identification of ALT in patients to more accurately define their disease prognosis,” said Dr Amos Loh, Senior Consultant, who is from KKH’s Department of Paediatric Surgery. Enabling effective treatment strategies for patients Asst Prof Cheow shared, “The combination of rapid workflow, scalability and single-molecule resolution makes our system unique in enabling the use of telomere length distribution as a biomarker in disease and population-wide studies. It will be particularly useful for diagnosing telomere maintenance mechanisms within clinical time scales, to determine personalised, therapeutic or preventive strategies for patients”. The NUS iHealthtech team is looking to extend their research and apply the STAR assay platform for use in hospital settings, to facilitate the diagnosis of aging-related diseases.
Singapore develops highly specific COVID-19 test to detect neutralizing Abs in 1hr - BSA bureau
This test would be instrumental in vaccine and therapeutic development as it is suitable for all antibody isotypes and can be used to determine antibodies in different animal species without any modification.
This test would be instrumental in vaccine and therapeutic development as it is suitable for all antibody isotypes and can be used to determine antibodies in different animal species without any modification. Singapore researchers have developed a unique and rapid SARS-CoV-2 surrogate virus neutralisation test (sVNT) to determine infection rate, herd immunity, predicted humoral protection, and vaccine efficacy during clinical trials. According to a study published in Nature Biotechnology, the sVNT is capable of detecting the functional neutralising antibodies (NAbs) that can block the binding of the coronavirus spike protein to the angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) host receptor, which mimics the virushost interaction. The sVNT was developed by scientists from Duke-NUS Medical School, in close collaboration with National Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCID), A*STAR's Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology (IMCB) Singapore, and GenScript Biotech. The scientists in Singapore and China validated the test across two patient cohorts, with a sample size of 250 from China and 375 from Singapore, achieving 99–100 per cent specificity and 95–100 per cent sensitivity. “The sVNT kit can detect functional NAbs in an hour and differentiate them with binding antibodies (BAbs), without the need for live virus or a biocontainment facility. It also has the ability to detect total receptor binding domain (RBD)-targeting neutralising antibodies in patient samples, in contrast to most SARS-CoV-2 antibody tests published or marketed, which are isotype-specific. This makes the sVNT accessible to the broader community for both research and clinical applications,” said Professor Wang Linfa, Director of Duke-NUS’ Emerging Infectious Diseases programme. Prof Wang is considered among the most recognised international experts on emerging zoonotic viruses and is currently serving on multiple WHO committees on COVID-19. Infection or immunity to the virus is diagnosed by the presence of NAbs in a patient’s blood sample, which would block the RBD–ACE2 interaction. There is an urgent need for a robust serological test that detects NAbs, for accurate assessment of COVID-19 infection prevalence and protective immunity at the individual and population level. Antibody tests, such as the conventional virus neutralization test (cVNT) and the pseudovirus-based virus neutralization test (pVNT), remain the only platforms for detecting NAbs. However, both require live viruses and cells, highly skilled operators, and days to obtain results. Other assays, such as the enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) detect Babs but are unable to differentiate between BAbs and NAbs. The sVNT can also measure NAbs from different animals in a species-independent manner. It can therefore be a powerful tool to investigate the role of animals in the transmission of COVID19 from natural reservoirs to intermediate hosts. “It is essential to measure the proportion, stability, and reprotection ability offered by COVID-19 antibodies in a patient. Neutralising antibody is the gold-standard serological platform to determine this. Unfortunately, the conventional virus neutralisation assay is laborious, time-consuming and requires Biosafety Level 3 for COVID-19. The sVNT developed by Prof Wang, in collaboration with the national COVID-19 PROTECT study, makes it accessible to all hospital laboratories, and is a great advance in COVID-19 serological assays,” said Associate Professor David Lye, Director, Infectious Disease Research and Training Office (IDRTO), and Senior Consultant, NCID. Mr David Martz, Vice President of New Product Management, Life Sciences Group, at GenScript. “This is great news for scientists researching herd immunity and vaccine efficacy as they will now have access to this innovative research tool to accurately determine the level of neutralising antibodies in a population.” The sVNT kit is commercialised by GenScript and offered worldwide under the brand cPass™ for research use only. GenScript has also filed for Emergency Use Authorisation with the US FDA and this filing is currently under review.
Singapore scientists invent a robotic system with AI-driven skin and vision sensors - BSA bureau
National University of Singapore (NUS) researchers integrated Intel Neuromorphic Computing to construct robots that ‘Feel’ to use in healthcare, logistics and food manufacturing industry
National University of Singapore (NUS) researchers integrated Intel Neuromorphic Computing to construct robots that Feel to use in healthcare, logistics and food manufacturing industry Two researchers from the National University of Singapore (NUS) who are members of the Intel Neuromorphic Research Community (INRC) – presented new findings demonstrating the promise of event-based vision and touch sensing in combination with Intel’s neuromorphic processing for robotics. The work highlights how bringing a sense of touch to robotics can significantly improve capabilities and functionality compared to today’s visual-only systems and how neuromorphic processors can outperform traditional architectures in processing such sensory data. The human sense of touch is sensitive enough to feel the difference between surfaces that differ by just a single layer of molecules, yet most of today’s robots operate solely on visual processing. Researchers at NUS hope to change this using their recently developed artificial skin, which according to their research can detect touch more than 1,000 times faster than the human sensory nervous system and identify the shape, texture and hardness of objects 10 times faster than the blink of an eye. Enabling a human-like sense of touch in robotics could significantly improve current functionality and even lead to new use cases. Tapping on Intel’s Loihi neuromorphic chip, the team shows how bringing a sense of touch to robotics can significantly improve capabilities and functionality compared to today’s visual-only systems. To break new ground in robotic perception, the NUS team began exploring the potential of neuromorphic technology to process sensory data from the artificial skin using Intel’s Loihi neuromorphic research chip. In their initial experiment, the researchers used a robotic hand-fitted with the artificial skin to read Braille, passing the tactile data to Loihi through the cloud to convert the micro bumps felt by the hand into a semantic meaning. Loihi achieved over 92% accuracy in classifying the Braille letters while using 20 times less power than a standard Von Neumann processor. The team has implemented a chip that can draw accurate conclusions based on the skin’s sensory data in real-time, while operating at a power level efficient enough to be deployed directly inside the robot. Thus, this smart robot has an ultra-fast artificial skin sensor. "Unique demonstration of an AI skin system with neuromorphic chips such as the Intel Loihi provides an artificial brain that can ultimately achieve perception and learning which is a major step forward towards power-efficiency and scalability.” said assistant professor Benjamin Tee from the NUS Department of Materials Science and Engineering and NUS Institute for Health Innovation & Technology. Building on this work, the NUS team has successfully tasked a robot to classify various opaque containers holding differing amounts of liquid using sensory inputs from the artificial skin and an event-based camera. Earlier this year, researchers from Intel Labs and Cornell University have jointly published a joint research paper in Nature Machine Intelligence, discussing the ability of Intel’s neuromorphic research chip, Loihi, to learn and recognize hazardous chemicals in the presence of significant noise and occlusion.
Singapore uncovers SARS-CoV-2-specific T-cell immunity - BSA bureau
Researchers discovered SARS-CoV-2-specific T cells in all recovered COVID-19 & SARS patients, and in individuals who expressed longterm immunity to coronaviruses (uninfected)
Researchers discovered SARS-CoV-2-specific T cells in all recovered COVID-19 & SARS patients, and in individuals who expressed longterm immunity to coronaviruses (uninfected) A Singapore study has uncovered the presence of virus-specific T cell immunity in people who recovered from COVID-19 and SARS, as well as some healthy study subjects who had never been infected by either virus. The T cells, along with antibodies, are an integral part of the human immune response against viral infections due to their ability to directly target and kill infected cells. The study by scientists from Duke-NUS Medical School, in close collaboration with the National University of Singapore (NUS) Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, Singapore General Hospital (SGH) and National Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCID) was published in Nature. The findings suggest infection and exposure to coronaviruses induces long-lasting memory T cells, which could help in the management of the current pandemic and in vaccine development against COVID-19. The team tested subjects who recovered from COVID-19 and found the presence of SARS-CoV2-specific T cells in all of them, which suggests that T cells play an important role in this infection. Importantly, the team showed that patients who recovered from SARS 17 years ago after the 2003 outbreak, still possess virus-specific memory T cells and displayed cross-immunity to SARS-CoV-2. “Our team also tested uninfected healthy individuals and found SARS-CoV-2-specific T cells in more than 50 percent of them. This could be due to cross-reactive immunity obtained from exposure to other coronaviruses, such as those causing the common cold, or presently unknown animal coronaviruses. It is important to understand if this could explain why some individuals are able to better control the infection,” said Professor Antonio Bertoletti, from Duke-NUS’ Emerging Infectious Diseases (EID) programme, who is the corresponding author of this study. Associate Professor Tan Yee Joo from the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine and Joint Senior Principal Investigator, Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology, A*STAR added, “We have also initiated follow-up studies on the COVID-19 recovered patients, to determine if their immunity as shown in their T cells persists over an extended period of time. This is very important for vaccine development and to answer the question about reinfection.” “T cells play an important role in the immune response against viral infections and should be assessed for their role in combating SARS-CoV-2, which might bring us a step closer to creating an effective vaccine,” said Associate Professor Jenny Low, Senior Consultant, Department of Infectious Diseases, SGH, and Duke-NUS’ EID programme. “NCID was heartened by the tremendous support we received from many previous SARS patients for this study. Their contributions, 17 years after they were originally infected, helped us understand mechanisms for lasting immunity to SARS-like viruses, and their implications for developing better vaccines against COVID-19 and related viruses,” said Dr Mark Chen I-Cheng, Head of the NCID Research Office. The team will be conducting a larger study of exposed, uninfected subjects to examine whether T cells can protect against COVID-19 infection or alter the course of infection. They will also be exploring the potential therapeutic use of SARS-CoV-2-specific T cells.
Singapore designs shield to protect COVID-19 healthcare workers - BSA bureau
NUS-NUH team in Singapore has designed "Portable Droplet and Aerosol Reducing Tent (DART)" which lessens the risk of infection to healthcare workers caring for COVID-19 patients and is also easy to sterilise
NUS-NUH team in Singapore has designed "Portable Droplet and Aerosol Reducing Tent (DART)" which lessens the risk of infection to healthcare workers caring for COVID-19 patients and is also easy to sterilise A team of researchers from the National University of Singapore (NUS) has invented a foldable tent-like device that serves as a physical shield to reduce the risk of exposure to pathogens for healthcare workers performing droplet and aerosol-generating procedures on COVID-19 patients. Known as the Droplet and Aerosol Reducing Tent (DART), the device was designed in collaboration with doctors from the National University Hospital (NUH). The DART can lessen the risks of infection associated with procedures such as suctioning, intubation and extubation by providing an extra layer of protection between the healthcare workers and the patient. It also helps to limit environmental contamination, which can be a source of transmission. The NUS team was led by Professor Freddy Boey, NUS Deputy President (Innovation & Enterprise), and Associate Professor Yen Ching-Chiuan, Co-Director of the Keio-NUS CUTE Center. The team comprises Dr Alfred Chia from NUS Department of Biomedical Engineering, Mr Eason Chow from Keio-NUS CUTE Center, doctoral student Mr Raymond Hon from the NUS Division of Industrial Design as well as researchers from the NUS Faculty of Engineering. The NUS team worked with Dr Deborah Khoo, Dr Wong Weng Hoa, Associate Professor Ti Lian Kah and Associate Professor Sophia Ang from the NUH Department of Anaesthesia. The multi-disciplinary team took less than two months to develop DART and validate its performance. “The quick invention and deployment of DART were made possible through a close collaboration between the NUS and NUH teams, which allowed multiple refinements to be made to the prototypes within a very short time. The NUS team was able to come up with the various designs while adhering to the restrictions of the circuit breaker period and found different ways to address design and performance-related challenges when many resources were not available. The NUH team was instrumental in testing our prototypes in a clinical setting, allowing us to interactively and rapidly refine the performance of the device,” shared Prof Boey. The COVID-19 pandemic dramatically increased the need for infection control when intubating patients. Intubation is the placement of a flexible plastic tube into the windpipe to maintain an open airway or to serve as a conduit through which to administer certain drugs. The removal of this plastic tube is known as extubation. These are risky procedures that may put healthcare workers in danger of becoming infected. Evidence from the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak in 2003 showed that healthcare workers involved in intubation were more likely to contract the disease compared with those who did not. This risk has similar implications for the current coronavirus outbreak, affecting anaesthesiologists, operating theatre staff, intensive care unit staff, and even first responders who are required to intubate collapsed patients in the COVID-19 general ward.