The negative fallout of COVID-19 and the resulting lockdown have spread to Swiss proptech companies, with those in the categories of asset management, construction, services, and, in some cases, marketplaces, being the most affected, according to a new study produced by industry trade group Swiss Proptech in partnership with Credit Suisse. By contrast, proptech companies in software/CRM/data management, finance, and flow-plans/augmented and virtual reality/3D (AR/VR/3R) were less affected, the study found.
Like other industries, proptech companies in Switzerland are not immune to the COVID-19 crisis, and the impact of the pandemic on the sector has been reflected on the measures taken by companies in the space.
Results from a survey conducted as part of the research found that 94% of Swiss proptech companies responded to the pandemic in one way or another. Only a tiny minority were forced to take drastic measures such as implementing redundancies (1%), while 5% resorted to freezing recruitment and 8% introduced short-time working. A similar number also initiated cost-cutting measures (8%).
In addition, several Swiss proptech companies turned to fundraising to help them weather the crisis, with 11% having applied for a federal guaranteed bank loan, 5% raising additional funding, and 10% strengthening communication with investors.
But the most widely resorted to of all measures were the intensification of selling activities (16%), intensified communication with employees (14%), and a greater focus on core clients (13%), the survey found.
With the sales of many proptech services and products slowing down and new projects being delayed, many young, cash-strapped proptech startups will not make it through, the report says, and unsurprisingly, the more matured ones with solid client base are likely to feel the repercussions of the pandemic less directly.
That being said, if there is one thing that the pandemic has made clear is that digitalization will be key for the Swiss real estate industry to remain relevant and stay competitive. Proptech companies are well-placed to benefit from this as incumbents will continue ramping up their digital capabilities, the research says.
Proptech companies that help real estate players work in a location-independent way are already directly benefiting from the lockdown, with fields that have gained traction recently including digital document managers, providers of digital access systems, and providers of digital communication solutions between landlords and tenants, the report says. Another area expected to witness growth is smart building technologies and AR/VR solutions.
Despite the initial shock and contraction inflicted by COVID-19, the surveyed proptech companies view the pandemic much more as an opportunity than as a risk, with not a single of them classifying COVID-19 as a major risk.
The Swiss proptech ecosystem
Switzerland is currently home to about 175 proptech companies, with 44% of them located in Zurich, according to the Proptech Switzerland Innovation Index 2020, released earlier this month by Proptech Switzerland.
Construction, property management and marketplace are the three top verticals, with 54% of all Swiss proptech companies operating in these sectors.
Locatee is a workplace analytics solution that transforms complex data into space utilization insight, and Archilyse operates a service for holistically analyzing and evaluating urban and architectural situations.
How to choose a face mask
In many regions, the wearing of face coverings is now mandatory, but what should you know about choosing a face mask? And how do you know if you are choosing the right face mask?
As the pandemic continues and the fall season begins, a greater amount of time will be spent indoors compared to during the summer months. As such, preventive measures to prevent the spread of SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) will become more important.
It remains an important endeavour to continue to prevent the spread of the virus and flatten the curve in an effort to keep our healthcare systems from being overwhelmed. An ever-increasing body of research supports the notion that wearing a face covering can reduce the risk of viral transmission, suggesting that wearing masks in public – particularly where social distancing might be challenging – can provide significant protection.
We have previously provided information on the different types of face masks – from N95 respirator masks to non-surgical face masks, and the varying levels of protection each provide, in addition to who should be wearing each type of mask, methods of re-use, and disinfection.
How to choose a face mask
Choosing a face mask might seem like a simple task, and the more time goes on, the more variety of face coverings are available in various designs and styles; but should you choose your face mask based on looks alone? What are the things you should look out for, and how can you be sure you are choosing the right mask for you?
It is a current recommendation that medical-grade masks (surgical masks, medical masks, and N95 respirator masks) are only used by healthcare workers or those providing care for patients with COVID-19. Keeping healthcare workers safe is a top priority, as they are at greatest risk of coming into contact with infected patients and being infected with the virus.
Non-medical masks or cloth face coverings should be worn by the general public. According to recommendations by Health Canada and the CDC, when choosing a face mask, you should look for:
– a mask that fits securely either with ties or ear loops – covers comfortably and securely over your nose and mouth without gaping
– a mask that can be washed and dried without loosing shape or fit
– a mask that is comfortable so that you don’t always need to adjust it
– a mask that is made from two layers (at least) of a tightly woven, breathable fabric (for example cotton or linen)
If you wear glasses, choosing a mask that has a nose wire to help it fit more snugly over your nose may help to prevent fogging of your glasses.
What type of fabric is best for a cloth mask?
It is important that any mask you chose should not be made of a material that is non-breathable – such as plastic.
Although cloth masks can’t block single virus particles, the transmission of viruses usually happens by larger ‘droplets’ that contain many particles. These droplets can be spread into the air when people speak, eat, cough, or sneeze. It is these larger particles that are more likely to be blocked by cloth masks. In addition to being spread into the air, the droplets can also then fall onto objects – such as tables – which are then touched by others, potentially allowing the transmission of the virus. Wearing masks can potentially prevent the transmission of droplets suspended in the air as well as those that come to rest on objects in the surrounding environment.
Although the filtration efficiency of cloth masks is less than that of surgical or N95 masks, they still provide significant protection against the spread of droplets containing viral particles. According to one study, when applying “the principles of evidence-based medicine to public policy, there is high-quality, consistent evidence that many (but not all) cloth masks reduce droplet and aerosol transmission and may be effective in reducing contamination of the environment by any virus, including SARS-CoV-2” 3 However, since the filtration is not 100 percent, it is important to remember to maintain physical distancing and continue with hand washing procedures.
A research study4 that compared filtration efficiency of different fabrics that are typically used to make cloth masks reported that cotton, natural silk, and chiffon provided good protection, as long as the weave was tight. They reported that higher threads per inch (thread count) were better at filtering particles. In addition, they reported that silk and chiffon were also effective and that combining cotton with either silk or chiffon could provide better protection. This study also reported that the fit of the mask was very important.
Other things to consider
Other safety issues should be considered when choosing a face mask. You should not share your mask with anyone else and your mask should in no way impair your vision or interfere with other important tasks.
Masks should never be placed on anyone who cannot remove them without help, anyone who has breathing problems, or children under the age of two.
Keeping more than one mask on hand might be helpful – especially for young children – who might be likely to need to have a clean mask during the day.
Having enough masks to ensure they are always available to you – for example spare masks while others are in the process of being washed – is also a good idea. Washing masks after each use is recommended, so this might mean you need a few spare ones on hand at any particular time.
- Non-medical masks and face coverings: About. Government of Canada. https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/2019-novel-coronavirus-infection/prevention-risks/about-non-medical-masks-face-coverings.html
- How to Select, Wear, and Clean Your Mask. CDC. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/about-face-coverings.html
- Clase CM, Fu EL, Joseph M, et al. Cloth Masks May Prevent Transmission of COVID-19: An Evidence-Based, Risk-Based Approach [published online ahead of print, 2020 May 22]. Ann Intern Med. 2020;M20-2567. doi:10.7326/M20-2567 https://www.acpjournals.org/doi/10.7326/M20-2567?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=social&utm_term=&utm_content=&utm_campaign=coronavirus&
- Abhiteja Konda,⊥ Abhinav Prakash,⊥ Gregory A. Moss, Michael Schmoldt, Gregory D. Grant, and Supratik Guha. Aerosol Filtration Efficiency of Common Fabrics Used in Respiratory Cloth Masks. : ACS Nano 2020, 14, 6339−6347 https://pubs.acs.org/doi/pdf/10.1021/acsnano.0c03252
Image by Please Don’t sell My Artwork AS IS from Pixabay
Can coronavirus be killed by UV light?
A new research study shows that a safe UV disinfection system effectively kills coronavirus.
Recent studies have reported that SARS-CoV-2 can survive on surfaces for several days and that hospitals may be a potential source of transmission due to contaminated surfaces. With an aim to slow the spread of COVID-19, a recent study investigated the effectiveness of UV disinfection on surfaces contaminated with SARS-CoV-2.
Increasingly used in healthcare to prevent the spread of healthcare-associated infections, UV disinfection systems most commonly emit UV radiation C (UVC) of around 254nm – but this is harmful to the skin and eyes. Previous studies have identified that 222-nm UVC light, belonging to far-UVC (207-222 nm), is less harmful but has the same disinfection properties. Despite this, prior studies involving 222 nm UVC light have only looked at how it can kill other seasonal coronaviruses, not directly at SARS-CoV-2.
Published in the American Journal of Infection Control, researchers from Hiroshima University conducted a study using Ushio’s Care222TM krypton-chloride excimer lamp. Sterile polystyrene plates were covered with a 100 microliter solution containing the coronavirus. After drying in a biosafety cabinet at room temperature, a Far-UVC lamp was placed 24 centimetres above the surface of the plates. The radiation intensity at the surface was 0.1 mW/cm2. After the treatment, the plates were analysed for presence of live virus.
The study reported that 99.7% of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus was killed after a 30-second exposure to 222 nm UVC irradiation at 0.1 mW/cm2.
The 254 nm UVC germicidal lamps that are currently used to disinfect healthcare facilities are harmful to the skin and eyes. This means they can only be used in an empty room. A wavelength of 222 nm UVC is much safer and does not cause damage to the skin and eyes like the 254 nm wavelength. The researchers suggest that a 222-nm UVC disinfection system could be safely used in occupied public spaces.
With a requirement to help slow the spread of SARS-CoV-2 through prevention and control practices, such as UV disinfection, this study is a positive step forward. However, the researchers identify that further studies are necessary to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of 222 nm UVC irradiation in killing SARS-CoV-2 viruses on surfaces in real-world settings.
Written by Helen Massy, BSc
Kitagawa, H., Nomura, T., Nazmul, T., Omori, K., Shigemoto, N., Sakaguchi, T. and Ohge, H., 2020. Effectiveness of 222-nm ultraviolet light on disinfecting SARS-CoV-2 surface contamination. American Journal of Infection Control.
EurekAlert!. 2020. Study Shows First Proof That A Safer UV Light Effectively Kills Virus Causing COVID-19. [online] Available at: <https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-09/hu-ssf091620.php> [Accessed 21 September 2020].
Image by Thor Deichmann from Pixabay
Can you be re-infected with coronavirus?
Researchers characterize the clinical, immunological, and virologic aspects of patients who re-test positive for coronavirus.
The continuing COVID-19 pandemic remains a burden on social, economic, and healthcare systems. As more becomes known about the respiratory syndrome, interventions and preventative measures are being implemented to slow its spread. There is however, a gap in knowledge regarding re-positive cases of coronavirus, re-infection, and its health implications.
A recent study helps to shed light on the clinical and immunological characterization of COVID-19 patients that re-test positive for coronavirus.
Researchers characterized data from 619 COVID-19 re-positive cases in Guangdong, China from January to March, 2020. Patients who tested negative for COVID-19 after hospitalization were continuously isolated and screened. Of these, 87 cases re-tested positive for coronavirus and were subsequently returned to hospital. Seventy of the re-positive cases were then assessed via serum and swab samples. Virus RNA was detected through RT-PCR, neutralization assays identified antibody levels, and additional lung examination was conducted through computerized tomography.
Re-positive COVID-19 cases do not appear to present with active infection
During hospitalization, initial diagnosis of the to-be re-positive cases revealed 46 patients with mild and 41 with moderate symptoms. Upon discharge, 77 re-positive cases were asymptomatic while 10 exhibited only a non-productive cough that was aggravated at night. Antibody titer reports demonstrated effective immune activation in all individuals; they were in the normal range of 4 > 1024. Further laboratory analysis concluded a lack of infectious coronavirus strains as well as full-length viral genomes.
Due to patients being isolated post hospital release, there is low likelihood that re-positive cases of coronavirus occur as a result of secondary viral infection (re-infection). Possible causes for re-positive tests might have been attributed to insufficient initial immune responses – an inability for neutralizing antibodies to completely clear the infection. However, antibody titer tests confirmed this was not the case. In addition, researchers were unable to identify intact viral genomes that would create infectious strains in re-positive coronavirus patients. The implications of these findings suggest that there is a reduced transmission risk in those that re-test positive for coronavirus.
The cause of coronavirus reinfection is a growing concern. Re-positive detection of coronavirus is necessary for the implementation of protective public health measures. Understanding the immunological aspects of the virus will aid in better estimation times required for self-isolation and equip hospital facilities. As COVID-19 information and knowledge increase, public education, resource allocation, and efforts towards flattening the curve can be greatly improved.
Written by Melody Sayrany
- Lu, J., Peng, J., Xiong, Q., Liu, Z., Lin, H., Tan, X., . . . Ke, C. (2020). Clinical, immunological and virological characterization of COVID-19 patients that test re-positive for SARS-CoV-2 by RT-PCR. EBiomedicine. doi:10.1101/2020.06.15.20131748
Image by fernando zhiminaicela from Pixabay
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