The tech that's helping stop the spread
We take a look at some of the COVID-busting infection control technologies being used to mitigate the spread of SARS-CoV-2.
Infection control robots
Ultraviolet (UV) light has potential for helping us manage the COVID-19 pandemic due to its sterilisation abilities. Portable no-touch UVC light systems can supplement hospital cleaning and disinfecting practices.
UVC — one of the three types of radiation emitted by the sun — has the ability to kill germs and can be used as an alternative to chemical disinfection; however, it must be used with caution. A paper published by the International Society for Infectious Diseases on new technologies in infection prevention stated that as UV light is toxic to humans, touchless room-cleaning should only be used in empty patient rooms, such as after a patient has been discharged.
UVC can be used to sterilise objects, water, surfaces and materials, including devices such as phones, hospital floors or public transport vehicles.
A study published in medRxiv demonstrated that UVC irradiation is effective in inactivating and inhibiting SARS-CoV-2 replication.
Meet LD UVC, the infection-fighting bot
Equipped with lasers and passive infrared (PIR) motion sensors for obstacle detection and avoidance, the LD UVC robot is designed to autonomously manoeuvre through narrow corridors, elevators and automatic doors to disinfect premises by eliminating 99.90% of bacteria and viruses.
The robot shuts off its UVC light upon human detection. Features like bumper, sonar and emergency stop provide additional safety.
OMRON Asia Pacific Managing Director of Industrial Automation Business Takehito Maeda said, “Given the utmost significance of sanitisation and disinfection in the post COVID-19 era, we believe the robot will yield a great value to organisations who are struggling to find the right, effective, less labour-intensive and long-term solutions to ensure their premises are safe and germ-free.”
Negative Pressure Room Conversion Kit
One of the biggest challenges we face with COVID-19 is how quickly it can spread through the community and surge local health facilities to capacity before the source and extent of the individual outbreak is even known.
Having spent several months catching up with and responding to outbreaks, some Australian hospitals are now taking a more aggressive, proactive approach to their preparations to mitigate the effects of possible sudden surges in the future.
Much is still unknown about COVID-19. What we do know is that the more rapidly we can isolate patients with COVID-19, the better we can protect the wellbeing of healthcare workers so they can continue providing the exceptional patient care we’ve come to expect from Australian nursing staff.
St Vincent’s Hospital Sydney is one such healthcare facility that has not waited for it to be too late to act. The hospital engaged Hospital Products Australia (HPA) to transform normal ward rooms into COVID-19-patient-ready rooms within hours using the Negative Pressure Room Conversion Kit. HPA converted ward rooms into COVID-19-safe bedrooms accommodating up to four patients each. These negative-pressure rooms supplement existing facilities by providing surge capacity, which can be rapidly redeployed as required or stored away for future use.
How the conversion kit works
- The room is made airtight and any gaps larger than 1 mm are covered with tape.
- An airtight change room is inflated and attached to the door frame. Zip doors allow entry/exit of beds or wheelchairs.
- A ventilation system with HEPA filtration is connected to the inflated change room.
With body temperature checks accepted as an important tool to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19, thermal cameras are in demand for a wide range of industries and facilities, including hospitals, aged-care homes, airports and schools.
Several hospitals have installed temperature-screening technology at hospital entrances to assess people’s temperatures as they arrive on premises.
Technologies such as Johnson Controls Body Temperature Detection System are providing a valuable early warning detection solution, allowing hospital staff to stand back and monitor people from a distance as they walk in front of the camera.
If a person is found to have a high body temperature, an audible alarm will activate, allowing staff to discreetly implement health procedures that may include isolating the person.
This screening process has proven to be particularly reassuring for hospital staff, who are dealing with large numbers of the general public coming in for COVID-19 testing.
The Body Temperature Detection System can read the temperatures of up to 40 people every minute and employs advanced facial recognition to allow the system to read face temperature for a more accurate measurement. This also stops any false readings, which may be caused by a person carrying a hot drink.
Researchers from the Free University of Berlin’s Institute for Animal Hygiene and Environmental Health have demonstrated that textiles treated with Livinguard Technology can destroy 99.9% of SARS-CoV-2.
Developed by Swiss hygiene company Livinguard, the technology can inactivate exhaled viruses when applied to fabrics incorporated into face masks. Masks using Livinguard technology are already in use by law enforcement and frontline workers in Singapore, Japan, Germany and the United States.
“As governments seek to restart their economies, technology will play an important role in the protection of health and wellbeing,” Livinguard Founder and CEO Sanjeev Swamy said.
“What is truly exciting for us is that this technology has been proven effective and safe for everyday uses, such as for use on airplane seats and public transport, to protect our population in all areas of life. Through this, we hope to be able to open possibilities for governments and public health authorities to move more quickly to reopen, while keeping the populations safe.”
Uwe Rösler from the Institute for Animal and Environmental Hygiene said the textiles could also help to reduce hygienic issues in other general and medical areas beyond COVID-19.
“Imagine the ability of airlines to treat seats and folding tables with our technology, ensuring that viruses and bacteria are continuously killed and prevented from spreading,” Swamy said.
“This can drive not only benefits for public health but significant efficiencies for companies in high-traffic industries in relation to resources applied to cleaning and disinfecting services.”
How does it work?
The principle underlying the Livinguard technology is to apply a positive charge at the molecular level to textile surfaces. When microbes come into contact with these positive charges, the microbial cell — which is negatively charged — is destroyed, leading to permanent destruction of the microorganism. Livinguard technology has been found to be safe for the skin and lungs, and allows users to re-use masks up to 210 times with no compromise on safety or efficacy.
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