Pasajeros se protegen con mascarillas en el Aeropuerto Internacional de Los Ángeles, Estados Unidos. Foto: Etienne Laurent /EFE.

USA: masks are still mandatory in transport

The government of the American president, Joe Bidenextended the mandatory use of masks in all transport networks for two more weeks, according to international media reports.

The measure, which will be in force until May 3, is taken in the midst of a resurgence of the COVID-19 pandemic in the North American country, caused by the BA.2 subvariant of the coronavirus.

“In order to assess the potential impact that increased cases have on severe illness, including hospitalization and deaths, and the capacity of the health system, the order remains in effect,” a spokesperson for the Centers said this week. for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), cited by the agency EFE.

The mandatory use of masks ordered by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), which applies to planes, airports, buses and railways, was due to expire on April 18.

The US Government was waiting for the opportunity to dictate more flexible regulations regarding the use of masks, which would have replaced the ordinance that is applied at the national level.

The CDC indicated that the TSA will extend until May 3, and this is the shortest extension of that order applied for 14 months and that, in its first version, it was due to expire in May 2021.

The TSA has extended the order for the use of masks in transportation several times and the most recent was in March, when it added a month of validity.

WHO outlines scenario where coronavirus evolves, but loses strength

Health authorities in several states have seen an increase in COVID-19 cases as the BA.2 sublineage of the Omicron variant of the virus spread, which appears to be highly contagious.

The federal rule allows the TSA to apply fines to passengers who refuse to wear masks on their trips, and those penalties range from $500 to $3,000 for repeat offenders.

New test for the detection of COVID-19

For its part, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved this Thursday for the first time a test for the detection of COVID-19 that is done by blowing.

The so-called InspectIR COVID-19 Breathalyzer detects the existing chemical components in the breath samples that are taken and that are associated with that disease, the FDA explained in a statement.

The test is done by blowing into a tube that is connected to a balloon-shaped device that captures the sample.

The FDA explained that this type of test can be performed in places such as clinics, hospitals and mobile testing sites, under the supervision of specialized personnel, and takes three minutes to produce a result.

An FDA official, Jeff Shuren, said in the note that the authorization “is another example of rapid innovation on COVID-19 tests.”

Scientists design portable test to detect coronavirus and its variants

The new test uses a technique called Gas Chromatography Coupled with Mass Spectrometry (GC/MS), which is used to separate and identify combined chemicals and rapidly detects five volatile organic compounds linked to infection by coronavirus.

When the test finds the presence of markers for these organic compounds, it gives a positive result, which, according to the FDA, should be confirmed later with a molecular test.

The test was the subject of a study with 2,409 volunteers, with and without symptoms of COVID-19, and in which it was shown that the test had a sensitivity of 91.2%, a percentage that refers to the positives that InspectIR COVID-19 19 Breathalyzer correctly identified.

Additionally, the test had 99.3% specificity, which is the rate of negatives that the test correctly detected.

The analysis also showed that in a population with only 4.2% of infected individuals, the test had a predictive value of 99.6%, which means that it is reliable in areas with a low incidence of the disease.

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