Coronavirus: Bahrain deploys robots emitting UV light to disinfect public spaces and offices

Coronavirus: Bahrain deploys robots emitting UV light to disinfect public spaces and offices
Coronavirus: Bahrain deploys robots emitting UV light to disinfect public spaces and offices

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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - A robot that emits ultraviolet light to disinfect public spaces and offices from the novel coronavirus has been launched in Bahrain, authorities said on Wednesday.

The machine is designed to beam out short-wavelength UV light that is intended to kill coronavirus particles by disrupting their DNA.

It is known as 'ultraviolet germicidal irradiation'.

So far the robots, designed by Fab Lab Bahrain that collaborated with the Ministry of Youth and Sports Innovation Centre, have been tested in industrial environments only.

The country has recorded 26,758 coronavirus cases and 96 deaths since the outbreak began earlier this year.

Experts say the radiation emitted by UV light damages the genetic material of the virus and harms its ability to replicate.

Most viruses, including Covid-19, are covered with a thin membrane easily broken apart by UV rays.

“That UV light inactivates SARS-CoV-2 is not surprising. UV inactivates most viruses very efficiently. Indeed UV disinfection is widely used for disinfection of drinking water,” said Paul Hunter, a professor in medicine at University of East Anglia. “Given the nature of coronaviruses we would expect them to be especially sensitive to disinfection by either hypochlorite (bleach) or UV light,” Mr Hunter said.

In May, Bahrain deployed a pair of multilingual, multi-talented robots to help frontline health workers deal with the crisis.

The assistant robots can speak 12 languages, check body temperatures, administer medicines, serve meals and sterilise treatment rooms with beams of ultraviolet light.

They can also identify patients using facial recognition and can respond to voice commands from staff.

Dr Waleed Al Manea, from Bahrain's Health Ministry, called the technology a "medical revolution".

“We have started using the robots in the isolation and treatment facilities as part of the experimental phase to use AI in the health sector,” Mr Al Manea said.

The robots aim to limit the interaction of health workers with Covid-19 patients.

“It is certainly a new medical revolution and we want to see how this benefits patients and staff,” he said.

“This new technology will help doctors and nurses as they can evaluate the effectiveness of the robots and help incorporate them in their daily work.”

Bahrain plans to roll out the robots to hospitals across the country following the initial testing period.

Updated: July 1, 2020 03:57 PM

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