Myongji offers speedy, comfy Covid-19 test at Incheon airport
Travelers using the Incheon International Airport Terminal 1 (T1) can receive a comfortable and quick Covid-19 test, as Myongji Hospital opened its testing center at the airport’s T1 on Sept. 8.
Korea Biomedical Review has recently visited the new testing center, which aims to provide “the most comfortable, futuristic testing experience in the world.”
Myongji Hospital’s Covid-19 testing center is located on the west side of the Incheon International Airport Terminal 1
Myongji Hospital’s testing center on the west side of the T1 looks like a gallery or an airport lounge rather than a disease testing center because of its warm and calm exterior in a fresh mint color.
Inside the center, the high ceiling, bright shades of white and mint, and glass windows occupying one entire wall offer a sense of openness. Plants inside and outside of the building add freshness.
The testing center’s entrance viewed from inside the center. The high ceiling with the glass wall provides a sense of openness.
The sizable and bright space gives a sense of stability to travelers who might be anxious about the risk of Covid-19 infection or unexpected schedule changes, Myongji officials said.
If you follow the guidance of the staff greeting you at the entrance, you can complete the quarantine procedure and testing registration. Then, you can sit back with a relaxed mind and enjoy the space.
However, the gallery-like exterior does not mean that the testing center neglected its original function.
Lim Jae-kyun, head of the testing center who is also a professor of diagnostic laboratory medicine at Myongji Hospital, said the hospital put great effort to prevent infection in the center from the design stage to ensure the safety of travelers and medical staff.
“The entire building is equipped with negative-pressure facilities. Therefore, we organized the spatial structure intuitively and efficiently,” Lim said. “We tried to widen the waiting space as much as possible and arranged the movement in a straight line from medical questionnaires to sample collection and to the exit to minimize the crowding indoor.”
Such an efficient movement line makes the testing process fast. Samples from the four sampling booths pass through the antibody testing room and get immediately delivered to the testing room on the second floor. Two diagnostic laboratory medicine specialists stay in the testing room and conduct tests in real-time.
Testing ends in shortest time, English results get automatically printed
Rapid RT-PCR tests take about three hours, and rapid antigen/antibody tests, one hour, to get results. The test results in English are printed automatically, along with PDF files.
From the entrance on the left, visitors can go through the waiting area where registration and payment occur. Then, they go through the treatment room, the sample collection booth, the antibody test room, and finally, the exit on the right.
Lim said that the testing center is located at an international airport provides a “one-stop testing system” for busy international travelers.
“Our testing center aims to complete the testing as fast as we can. So if we shorten the user’s stay time, we can not only boost convenience but reduce the risk of infection,” he said.
Working with KT, a major mobile carrier, Myongji Hospital said it would make a mobile application for the booking, registration, and payment for the airport Covid-19 testing to further shorten the stay time of travelers.
People were still using the testing center at the closing time of 6 p.m.
According to Lim, about 5 to 10 percent of all travelers departing from the Incheon airport visited the Covid-19 testing center.
About 5,000-6,000 people depart from the airport daily.
the government is soon to shift the quarantine strategy to focus on only serious Covid-19 cases and let mild Covid-19 patients and others live a normal life, Myongji’s testing center plans to cover as many as 2,000 people per day, Lim said.
With Korea’s vaccination rate rising and the ‘With Corona’ policy coming, the number of outbound travelers is expected to increase up to 30,000 daily, he said.
“Accordingly, the demand at the testing center will increase four to five folds. So we have prepared to meet the higher demand in advance,” he added.
The Covid-19 testing center is most busy on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. In particular, visitors peak in the morning time between 7 a.m. and 8 a.m.
The testing center recommends visiting at least four hours before the flight time because the visitor might have to take the test again.
The testing lab is located on the second floor of the testing center. Samples collected from visitors are delivered to the second floor, where diagnostic laboratory medicine specialists conduct the test immediately in real-time.
Lim said that if the flight time is 8 p.m., it is too late to conduct a PCR test after 5 p.m.
The new testing center has not had any such problem, but some travelers using other testing centers at the airport missed the flight due to the longer-than-expected testing time, he said.
Myongji Hospital’s Covid-19 testing center also plays as a Covid-19 research center.
“We feel a great responsibility for preventing and controlling Covid-19 at the international airport, which is the entrance to Korea,” Lim said. “We will do our best to fulfill our two duties – Covid-19 quarantine and research faithfully.”
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