In effort to curb COVID, Tokyo Olympics collect lots of spit
TOKYO (AP) — They spit. They wait. They hope.
About 30,000 people from scores of nations are spitting into tiny plastic vials at the Olympics in a daily routine that’s grown crucial in going ahead with the pandemic-era Games, according to organizers.
If you do the math for the two-week duration of the Olympics, that adds up to a half million saliva samples collected for athletes, who get tested daily, as well as other venues, in an extraordinary effort to curb the spread of COVID-19 infections. At about 1 milliliter per sample, that would be ... well, a lot of spit.
In contrast, such tests have long been hard to find for the general Japanese public. Japan is unique among developed nations in having discouraged widespread testing for the coronavirus.
The thousands of samples of collected spit are stored in tubes and identified by a barcode then all go through preliminary tests. Those with dubious results go through another round of testing, according to Olympic organizers’ "Playbook,” which outlines anti-COVID-19 measures.
The tests are being done at a facility called the Fever Clinic, which also cares for and isolates infected people within the so-called "Olympic bubble.” Once a COVID-19 infection is identified or suspected, “close contacts” also are tested to identify others who may be ill — a whack-a-mole process done under controlled conditions. Organizers wouldn't comment on the number of people working at the clinic or the specific arrangements.
These tests don’t require sticking a swab up one’s nose, another widespread method of testing for the coronavirus.
The tests for athletes, team officials, media and others affiliated with the Games are free to those submitting them, although they are estimated to cost about 10,000 yen ($100) each, medical say experts....