COVID-19

BATTLING THE PANDEMIC ON THE FRONT LINE

Science and technology incubator       

AI medical treatments

Interdisciplinary research teams at NCKU are actively engaged in the research and development of AI medical treatments. Such treatments offer solutions that will advance the current state of medicine and greatly aid in the prevention, monitoring and treatment of large-scale infectious diseases. NCKU is presently using AI applications to address Covid-19. These include smart robots for disease prevention, wearable devices to monitor physiological conditions, and an AI system to identify Covid-19 symptoms. AI medical treatments are also being used in tandem with big data to record and analyse patterns of disease progression in patients, providing valuable clinical data for medical research into disease prognosis.

Epidemiological and clinical treatment research

NCKU has brought its academic capabilities and clinical treatment experience to Covid-19 genome sequencing and research into global epidemiological data. Researchers are also working on improving screening kits and exploring effective clinical treatments. Major breakthroughs already achieved include nanoscale traps that can catch even a single virus for screening purposes and a Covid-19 protein chip.

Mental health

In addition to R&D regarding disease prevention, screening and treatment, NCKU is also addressing the impact of the pandemic on individuals and society. We focus on the mental health of first-line medical personnel, those who are infected, people who are in quarantine, and citizens who are exposed to massive amounts of information on Covid-19 from the internet and news media. We care not only about the treatment of the disease, but also about helping society recover from the aftermath of the pandemic.

 

NCKU during the pandemic

Scientific support and humanitarian considerations

NCKU’s satisfactory management of Covid-19 can be attributed primarily to two principles. The first of these is strong scientific support backing an information- and evidence-based policymaking process. For instance, the school-wide survey has allowed us to track down potential areas where people may be at risk. Moreover, every aspect of our Covid-19 management is executed with a high level of humanitarian consideration, be it airport pickups of returning students or customised toolkits prepared for each individual. Working together in a united front with professional support is the surest way to deal with this situation.

 

Response with as little lag time as possible

During a pandemic, unconfirmed information and rumours can lead to increased anxiety, which in turn undermines the stability of the university environment. Therefore, responses to questions and major new announcements must be handled in as timely a manner as possible. The delivery of properly translated scientific information is also crucial to minimising anxiety caused by disinformation or misinformation. To that end, NCKU has hosted a special series of live stream broadcasts to share insightful information, engage students in discussion, and answer questions on living with this disease that has greatly affected our daily lives.

 

Building a sense of global community in a time of quarantines

Quarantine Units for Recovery, Emergency and Ecology (QurE)

The QurE project, led by NCKU president Huey-Jen Jenny Su, is Taiwan’s first deployable quarantine hospital designed to respond to potential Covid-19 outbreaks. The quarantine unit is easy to assemble and can be quickly deployed to different locations. A single unit can be set up within three days and be ready for use within a week. The design is sustainable and allows materials to be sourced locally, resolving problems faced by mobile hospitals already in use in various countries. Most of all, it is a humane design. The project has been made available to the world as an open-source design, with all related documents and graphics downloadable in both Chinese and English on the NCKU website

 

 

2020 NCKU International Virtual Forum on Covid-19

NCKU hosted a 12-hour-long online forum in April that focused on how universities have rapidly adopted measures to continue to educate their students; how universities, government agencies and communities can effectively work together to combat the spread of the virus; and how innovative research in the fields of big data, AI healthcare, rapid testing devices, and novel treatments has been applied in response to Covid-19. Over 150 university presidents, scholars, experts and medical professionals from more than 10 countries attended the forum, and it was also broadcast live on YouTube.

Answering the call of social responsibility

Smart diagnostic system for quarantine stations

NCKU Hospital employs the Smart Healthcare Clinical Decision Support System in the hospital’s quarantine station, where patients with suspicious symptoms are examined. First, patients fill in their health information, including travel history and contact history, using tablets instead of face-to-face interviews with doctors. Next, patients’ lung X-rays are checked using an AI system to identify possible lung damage, after which the system compares the data collected from steps 1 and 2 against the latest disease information from the Taiwan Centers for Disease Control. Finally, the system provides an assessment report on the likelihood of the patient being infected with Covid-19. This system helps doctors diagnose patients quickly and cuts the examination process down from 2 hours to less than 30 minutes per patient. The system can be put to good use in areas with a shortage of healthcare workers.

 

Smart wearable devices

Smart-monitor wristbands developed by the NCKU team have been provided to medical personnel treating suspected or confirmed patients with Covid-19. The wristbands monitor real-time physiological conditions such as body temperature and heart rate and upload the data to the cloud for record-keeping and AI data analysis to detect abnormal conditions in a timely manner, thus reducing the risk of infection for medical professionals. NCKU is also working with NextDrive to develop a technology that gathers the wearers' location information to achieve precise contact tracing, which is useful for community disease prevention.

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