A NORTH EAST airport has installed a "groundbreaking" machine which can reportedly detect Covid particles in the air ahead of a potential rollout to venues and hospitals.

Teesside Airport is trialling the brand new system developed by Sedgefield-firm, Kromek, which can reportedly determine the presence of the virus down to "very low levels."

It comes as the County Durham company first unveiled plans for a system to detect particles of the virus at the turn of the year.

The move has since been described as "innovative," while the Chief Executive of Kromek has said the equipment could help the country return to normal life.

The Northern Echo: The Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen, centre left, with Dr Arnab Basu of Kromek Picture: CONTRIBUTORThe Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen, centre left, with Dr Arnab Basu of Kromek Picture: CONTRIBUTOR

As part of a three day trial, the system has been installed in the airport's terminal building where it is believed will detect traces of all Covid in the air within 30 minutes.

The system, which is classed as a 'biological threat detection system,' draws in large volumes of air and is then analysed automatically.

It is thought such a system could be used in airport lobbies, entertainment venues, theatres, shops and hospitals.

Dr Arnab Basu, Chief Executive Officer of Kromek, said: “We are proud to be conducting this pilot exercise in Teesside International Airport as part of wider trials of this world-first technology.

"As a North East-based firm, it’s encouraging to work with a forward-thinking international transport hub right on our doorstep, which is working tirelessly under the stewardship of Mayor Houchen to deliver real benefit to the region.

“The device we are trialling is the only technology of its kind which can autonomously detect the presence of COVID-19 from huge areas.

"The technology has the capacity to deliver near real time monitoring of the presence and prevalence of the virus, enabling a return to normal life.”

The Northern Echo: It could help detect the virus in airport lobbies Picture: SARAH CALDECOTTIt could help detect the virus in airport lobbies Picture: SARAH CALDECOTT

Under a contract with the US Department of Defence, the Sedgefield-based firm has said it is developing a wide-area system which will detect all known bacteria and viruses.

The Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen, who welcomed the trial at Teesside Airport, praised efforts across the region in the fight against Covid.

Mr Houchen said: “Kromek is a ground-breaking company that has adapted what it does best to develop this system in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.

“We’re delighted Teesside is not just one of the first airports, but one of the first buildings, to be trialling this new detector, which could be a real game-changer.

"Since day one of the pandemic, the airport has put the health and wellbeing of people across Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool at the front of everything we’ve done, and with this pilot we can play our part in helping to protecting the health of thousands of others.

“Although the past year has been difficult, businesses and individuals across our region have been making massive progress in the fight against the disease, like Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies, which is manufacturing the Novavax vaccine right here in Billingham.

“This partnership between the airport and Kromek is once again showing that our region is leading the way not just in helping to tackle coronavirus, but in innovation, collaboration and production.”

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