Virus-killing robots able to target coronavirus and other nasties are being deployed in numerous South African hospitals, hospital group Netcare said on Tuesday.
The company said it was taking delivery of 13 infection-prevention robots within the next few weeks to bolster its fleet of 28 spread across 22 sites.
The robots, which have been deployed since late 2017 primarily to combat “superbug” infections, use pulsed ultraviolet light to rid wards and theatres of bacteria, viruses and fungal spores.
“Now, with the increase in the number of Covid-19 cases in SA — which unfortunately won’t be the first, nor likely the last, infectious illness to reach our shores — we are pleased to have opted to invest in innovations such as these germ-eradicating robots,” said Netcare CEO Richard Friedland.
“We have also noted a growing public interest in the technology.”
The robots had produced impressive infection prevention and control results internationally and during pilot trials at Netcare hospitals in 2017, Friedland said.
Caroline Maslo, the senior clinical adviser at Netcare, said the Russian-designed Yanex robot had repeatedly proved itself to be effective in killing antibiotic-resistant bacteria and viruses such as the coronavirus.
“This new technology does not replace the infection risk-management protocols and procedures we already have in place but is used alongside them as an additional line of defense in our arsenal against potentially harmful germs,” Maslo said.
The robots can destroy about 99.9% of germs on high-touch surfaces and 99.99% of airborne germs.
Maslo said the robots emit UV-C spectrum light which destroys the DNA of bacteria, viruses, and fungi to neutralize them and prevent them from replicating.
“Many of those who are admitted to hospital are particularly vulnerable to infection. The aim of our infection prevention and control programs and the use of technology such as this is to help protect those in our care, as well as visitors, staff members and medical practitioners from any potentially harmful germs, including the coronavirus,” she said.
“Persons admitted to a Netcare facility can, therefore, be assured that the hospital’s wards, theatres, and other facilities are being disinfected as thoroughly as possible.”