China to open first lab to study contagious viruses



China is opening first bio-safety laboratory to research highly contagious viruses such as Ebola by the end of this year, Science and Technology Daily reported on Tuesday.

The Level four laboratory, known as a P4 laboratory, has obtained authorization from the China National Accreditation Service for Conformity Assessment after it was inaugurated in 2015, Yuan Zhiming, director of the Wuhan branch of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, told the Science and Technology Daily.

The P4 laboratory will research pathogens with the highest level of biohazard, such as Ebola, the Lassa fever virus and Marburg virus disease, Yuan said.

"Pathogens and viruses with high toxicity could result in death in both humans and livestock, but scientists have not come up with effective measures to counter them. Thus, there is an urgent need to study them," Yuan said.

China's first P4 laboratory

The Wuhan-based P4 laboratory has 10 doors in its core area, and is the safest type of laboratory for scientific studies. Air, liquid and solid waste from the laboratory will be processed to prevent the leak of fatal viruses, according to Yuan.

The laboratory also emphasized the importance of physical protection for humans. Positive pressure protective suits worn by researchers contain built-in respiratory systems resembling space suits, Yuan said.

The suits separate researchers from the outside environment so that viruses cannot come into contact with people.

The use of the P4 laboratory marks the China's establishment of a multi-level bio-safety laboratory system. A total of 53 such laboratories have been accredited by authorities.