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Face mask that lights up when it detects coronavirus being developed

It's another way hospitals, businesses and airports could screen people for signs of the virus.

Researchers from MIT and Harvard are working to develop a mask that lights up when it detects the new coronavirus, Business Insider reports. It's a technology already being worked on to detect Zika and Ebola.

The mask would "produce a fluorescent signal when a person with the coronavirus breathes, coughs or sneezes," BI reports. It could provide another layer of on-the-spot screening. Doctors could also use it as a preliminary way of testing patients for the virus before having to send samples to a lab.

"You or I could use it on the way to and from work. Hospitals could use it for patients as they come in or wait in the waiting room as a pre-screen of who's infected,"  Jim Collins MIT Termeer Professor of Bioengineering, told Business Insider. It could also be used to screen passengers on mass transit or at airports.

It could also be used to screen passengers on mass transit or at airports. Some of these places are now conducting temperature checks, but those aren't always reliable because someone with the virus could be asymptomatic.

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Collins warns the project is in the "very early stages." The team is also looking at whether the sensors should be embedded inside a mask or turned into a module that can be added to any mask, BI reports.

Trials would need to be conducted to see if it works in everyday life outside of a laboratory setting.

The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death. 

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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