Sunrise secures HKB award for Air Lab project

Since its launch, the pioneer Air Labs marked a milestone in the mass testing campaign in Hong Kong.

Many health tech developers prioritised ramping up efforts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, on top of its game is Sunrise Diagnostic Centre Limited (Sunrise), which has been working with the government to accelerate the rollout of mass testing since 2020.

The number of infections hit an all-time high in the third wave in early July 2021. More than half of those cases were untraceable. In response, the Hong Kong government rolled out the Universal Community Testing Programme (UCTP) to offer free testing to all residents for 14 days to combat the ongoing pandemic. Sunrise rose to the challenge.

The Huo-Yan Air Lab, a comprehensive solution to detect COVID-19 quickly and accurately, was launched by Sunrise at the Sun Yat Sen Memorial Park Sports Centre to combat the third wave of the pandemic. As the main test service provider for the UCTP, Sunrise was able to build a total of 16 Huo-Yan Air Labs within 12 hours, primarily to answer for the insufficient biosafety laboratories that can cater to high volumes of RT-PCR nucleic acid testing.

The Air Labs operated for 24 hours each day, reaching a record high of 220,000 tests per day. Around 1.78 million individuals participated in the COVID-19 tests held in the various Air Lab sites, constituting 25% of the entire Hong Kong population. 32 new confirmed cases were found as a successful conclusion of UCTP.

For this effort, Sunrise was awarded the Biotechnology - Healthcare Technology Award in the recently concluded Hong Kong Business Technology Excellence Awards. The annual awards programme recognises the latest in tech and lauds stand-out innovations in Hong Kong.

The Air Labs are equipped with four functional areas: sample receiving, reagent preparation, sample preparation, and amplification. Other equipment such as qPCR, automated liquid handlers and other advanced laboratory equipment are also available and are used according to the screening needs.

Each Air Lab is designed for mobility, it is convenient and easy to set up at a low cost. Compared to traditional laboratories, a set of Huo-Yan Air Lab can cater 5,000 sample detection capacity per day, up to 15,000 with sample pooling.

Amongst the remarkable features of the Air Lab is that it uses antibacterial PVC material that is foldable and lightweight. This translates to low transportation costs and faster turnover time compared to traditional laboratories.

It also meets international safety standards, having undergone the evaluation of governing parties as a level 2 biosafety laboratory with proper infection control measures. The testing methods passed the External Quality Assessment Programme (EQAP) by the Hong Kong Department of Health.

Sunrise and Huo-Yan Air Labs have received appreciation from various sectors of the Hong Kong community as it continues to set milestones in recent months. In December 2020, Sunrise set up Huo-Yan Labs at the Hong Kong International Airport to provide inbound travelers with a one-stop service for combined nasal and throat swabbing sampling and rapid RT-PCR testing. With the advanced technology, the Air Labs were able to provide two-hour rapid RT-PCR tests which helped shorten passengers’ long waiting time from 8 to 10 hours to 2 hours.

In line with its efforts on its corporate social responsibility, Sunrise is also looking into offering HPV self-sampling tests for women to enhance public health awareness.  Sunrise is looking forward to its journey to continuously pursuit technological innovation to bring a healthier living for everyone

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