AN ELECTRONIC engineer has invented a filter that can kill coronavirus particles in the air.

Colin Ames, of Eastbourne, invented the device as an “all purpose filter” to remove pollution and virus particles from the air.

It has already been tested and proved effective by the experts at Public Health England’s research facility Porton Down in Wiltshire.

The invention has been designed to remove the virus from isolation rooms or hospital wards.

However Mr Ames said it could easily be scaled down and put in face masks to prevent the airborne spread of the disease.

The device, which is currently being trialled in a Swiss hospital, can remove and destroy particles as small as 20 nanometres.

Coronavirus particles are six times larger – 120 nanometres.

Physicist and electronic engineer Mr Ames said: “This was designed as general purpose filter. It is an electronic system.

“The forces crush the virus into a receptor within the filter.

“The filter can last for a good ten years of use.

“It is currently between the size of an A3 and A4 piece of paper.

“It was made this size to treat whole rooms but there is no reason it couldn’t be scaled down.

“It could be made small enough to fit in face masks.

“If you were trying to isolate yourself, putting it in a face mask would be ideal.”

Mr Ames said the filter was designed and created long before the start of the new coronavirus outbreak – but testing at the PHE’s testing facility has just been completed.

He said: “The PHE have had this during the time they have been looking at what to do about coronavirus.

“It was tested and gives the level of extraction that we have shown.

“If someone had the will to do it, it could be done in weeks.

“They are aware of it.

“They have seen and they know it works.”

PHE’s report into the efficacy of Mr Ames’s device, seen by the Argus, shows that it was able to remove 99.9 per cent of particles in the air.

Experts have warned that masks currently on the market do little to protect against an airborne infection.

Current UK health advice is that while masks are useful for medical staff in hospitals, “there is very little evidence of widespread benefit for members of the public”.

But face masks have long been a common sight in Asian countries.

Despite questions about how effective masks are, the Covid-19 outbreak has led to much higher demand, with supplies running out.

Dentists are suffering a shortage and have been restricted to ordering 100 masks a day.

There are two main types of masks currently in use.

N95 respirator masks contain a filter to remove particles from the air.

These are also used to remove pollution from the air, such as while cycling.

However, the new filters created by Mr Ames would prevent even tiny virus particles.

Traditional surgical masks provide no protection at all against coronavirus.

Japanese electronics giant Sharp has said it plans to use a TV factory to make surgical masks.

Its parent company Foxconn has already done the same in China to supply its own workers as they make iPhone parts.

Sharp’s high-end clean rooms in Japan will turn out 150,000 masks a day within weeks, Japanese media reports, as domestic supplies have been exhausted.

Sharp’s production line in Mie, east of Osaka, usually makes LCD display panels for its television business but could soon ramp up to making as many as 500,000 masks a day by switching part of its production.

US Surgeon General Dr Jerome Adams warned that wearing existing masks might increase your risk of infection if not worn properly as people touch their face a lot putting them on.

Masks, however, can be effective at capturing droplets, which is the main transmission route of coronavirus.

Some studies have estimated a roughly five-fold protection versus no barrier.

If you are likely to be in close contact with someone infected, a mask cuts the chance of the disease being passed on.

If you are just walking around town and not in close contact with others, wearing a mask is unlikely to make any difference.

The World Health Organisation advises only wearing face masks “if you are taking care of a person with suspected 2019-nCoV infection”.