The Coronavirus and emerging technologies in Africa

May 30, 2020

The Coronavirus pandemic will forever change the way we do things. The future for those returning to work will look very different to before, with emphasis on distancing, sanitization and disinfection. There is now a momentous obligation on the part of employers to provide a safe, decontaminated environment for their employees.

Words like social distancing, sanitization, and disinfection have become the new buzz words around the world. What was once regarded as a regime mostly used in the healthcare industry, will now become the new normal in everyday life.

What needs to be understood however is that cleaning does not mean disinfection. The once-standard “cleaning practices” of institutions will be elevated to include disinfection, and will become an integrated process across industries; from shops to hotels, to airports, to schools, to hospitals, to transport and to old age homes to name but a few.

Whilst cleaning generally refers to the removal of dirt and debris without necessarily removing harmful pathogens, sanitization refers to reducing pathogens, but not removing them in totality. Disinfection on the other hand is the process of killing pathogens like bacteria, mold, fungi, and viruses that exist on surfaces and in the air up to 99.999%, thus decontaminating an area. Regular disinfection is essential in preventing the spread of harmful pathogens.

By simply cleaning or sanitizing, harmful microbes (pathogens) that result in illness can remain on surfaces and floors after wiping and mopping. In fact, they live on cleaning materials and as such can be spread around a facility unknowingly, a term known as cross-contamination.

Disinfection generally requires very highly trained cleaning staff who understand infection prevention and control strategies. It often takes a significant amount of time, human labor, and high costs to achieve a decontamination level of 99.999%; that was however before the launch of the UV-D Robot in Africa.

The UV-D Robot is a fully autonomous UV-C emitting robot. It is clinically validated to reduce the most known pathogens to near zero, creating an aseptic environment with every disinfection. The UV-D Robot can obtain between 99.999% and 99.9999% irradiation of pathogens depending on time and exposure.

Whilst there are many alternatives on the market like vaporized/dry mist hydrogen peroxide or static UV-C devices, they have significant limitations and even pose health risks due to long term exposure. These alternatives do not offer an efficient, cost-effective method of decontamination, often resulting in lengthy disinfection cycles, non-validated results and no exposure to the disinfected area for hours after decontamination.

The UV-D Robot is currently the number 1 recommended UV-C device because of its autonomy, intelligent robotics, and high-power UV-C output. Boasting 8 full-length lamps which are capped at 253.7nm (germicidal range), it can move to less than 1 meter from a surface or object, allowing maximum exposure to UV-C, with 4 lamps facing any given direction at all times. In mere drive-by mode of 10cm per second, the UV-D Robot can achieve a log 3 reduction, which is sufficient to destroy the most harmful pathogens.

The UV-D Robot has won multiple awards, including the “Oscar of robotics”, namely the IERA Award in 2019. Manufactured by UV-D Robots in Denmark and sold exclusively by Nexmed Healthcare Solutions in Sub-Saharan Africa, the UV-D Robot has gained immense exposure since the outbreak of COVID-19. The UV-D Robot has been featured multiple times by Forbes as one of the top technologies in the fight against the Coronavirus, as well as further features around the globe.

We have seen the installation of UV-D Robots all over the world in all settings, from airports, to train stations, to schools, to offices, to hospitals, and more. There is no limit to where the UV-D Robot can be used provided that proper safety measures relating to UV-C exposure are managed.

A single UV-D Robot is capable of disinfecting 18 000m2 in just 2.5 hours with nearly no human intervention, other than the original map which is pre-programmed based on the facility layout. This time can be further reduced to mere minutes with more UV-D Robots onsite. The occupants can enter the room immediately after decontamination, unlike other alternatives. Software and UV-C dosimeters are also provided to validate the disinfection process as this is vital to ensure the area is properly decontaminated.

The reality is that we are dealing with a very serious “superbug” when it comes to SARS-CoV-2 and therefore we need to ensure that we put our trust in an effective disinfection device; one that can be easily integrated into everyday life while still providing the highest level of disinfection available today. For this, the UV-D Robot comes highly recommended.

Around the world, we have seen the reinvigoration of UV-C as one of the dominant forms of decontamination during the COVID-19 pandemic. This has sparked further studies into the use of “far-UVC” which is a particular type of UV with a wavelength of around 220nm. It has a very short range in biological material so that it cannot penetrate the dead-cell layer at the surface of our skin, nor can it penetrate our eyes.

Because of the stringent and urgent need for disinfection that can be easily integrated into standard cleaning protocols with high-level effectiveness and minimum disruption, we will see more need for the UV-D Robot.

Many individuals are hesitant and even fearful to return to work or schools, given the dangers of COVID-19 and how easily the virus can be contracted. The UV-D Robot will allow for a certain amount of normalization in everyday life as it disinfects at a rapid pace, multiple times a day. We will see the use of it as an everyday instrument in preventing infections and improving the wellbeing and morale of individuals.

We know that other than effective disinfection, social distancing also plays a vital role in flattening the curve. For this reason, businesses have been encouraged to adopt a “work from home” strategy. We understand how difficult this is as many members of staff are required to be onsite in order to have an effective oversite of tasks or processes. We also understand that those at significant risk of exposure are healthcare providers but applying social distancing to patients in a hospital setting is near impossible.

For this reason, we have taken great joy in further expanding our product range by sourcing the world’s most advanced Telepresence Robot. We understand that virtual meetings and consultations will become a significant part of everyday life, and may become a primary means of conducting meetings, training, physician consultations, seminars, among others.

The Telepresence Robot will allow members of staff to have a very real human presence at their facilities without physically being there.

The Telepresence Robot will further allow healthcare providers to reduce their exposure to the virus by conducting virtual consultations with patients from a remote room in the facility or elsewhere. This has a further positive effect on the demand for PPE, as healthcare providers will use less PPE than before by doing virtual interactions.

The brand new, best-in-class Telepresence Robot is due to launch in Europe in the coming days and we are excited to be part of quickening international technology to the African market. Like the UV-D Robot, this Telepresence Robot is the most advanced device of its kind on the market today, featuring never before seen technologies in a telepresence device.

The combined use of these technologies offers significant mitigation against the risks of contracting the Coronavirus. In addition, they offer a very real help in a time of need. Lastly, they offer protection and peace of mind to the people we care for, which is everyone we come in contact with.