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Saturday, March 28, 2020 5:46pm

Coronavirus: New tech being used to fight pandemic


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As nations around the world scramble to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, straining medical resources and overburdening doctors, governments are turning to technology to help fight back the outbreak.

From phone apps to drones, here are a few gadgets that have been used to battle the coronavirus:

Data-collecting apps

Multiple Asian governments have used smartphone apps to track data of users who have tested positive for COVID-19. In South Korea, a compulsory app enforces self-isolation for those ordered to maintain it. Taiwan and Singapore are also using smartphone apps to enforce quarantines via “electronic fences” that alert authorities when someone moves out of quarantine.

A woman wearing a face mask checks her phone as she walks at the Naviglio Grande canal in Milan, Italy. 

A woman wearing a face mask checks her phone as she walks at the Naviglio Grande canal in Milan, Italy. 
(AP)

On Tuesday, the Czech Republic became the first European nation to announce plans to deploy a powerful — but potentially intrusive — tracking tool for fighting the pandemic.

Drones

Multiple police departments in California are planning on using drones to enforce a coronavirus lockdown and monitor the homeless population.

City police officers with the help of a drone monitor citizens' movements in Grosseto, central Italy, Friday, March 20, 2020 as mayors of many towns in Italy are asking for ever more stringent measures on citizens’ movements to help contain the surging infections of the coronavirus. 

City police officers with the help of a drone monitor citizens’ movements in Grosseto, central Italy, Friday, March 20, 2020 as mayors of many towns in Italy are asking for ever more stringent measures on citizens’ movements to help contain the surging infections of the coronavirus. 
(LaPresse via AP)

The Chula Vista Police Department, located near the California-Mexico border, recently purchased two $11,000 drones – doubling its fleet – that will be outfitted with speakers and night vision cameras.

Ninja Robots

Multiple hospitals in Thailand have begun using “ninja robots” to ease the burden on their medical workers and doctors.

A robot modified to screen and observe COVID-19 coronavirus patients is photographed at the Regional Center of Robotics Technology at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok.

A robot modified to screen and observe COVID-19 coronavirus patients is photographed at the Regional Center of Robotics Technology at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok.
(Getty Images)

The “ninja robots” – so named for their black exteriors – were originally built to monitor recovering stroke patients. They’re now being used in at least four hospitals in and around Bangkok to measure patients’ fevers.

Smart helmets

In China, where the COVID-19 outbreak originated, police departments have been equipped with “smart helmets.” The helmets come with infrared cameras that allow its wearer to measure temperature from up to five meters away.

A police officer wearing a smart helmet stands guard at Chunxi Road on March 7, 2020 in Chengdu, Sichuan Province of China.

A police officer wearing a smart helmet stands guard at Chunxi Road on March 7, 2020 in Chengdu, Sichuan Province of China.
(Getty Images)

The helmets, which were introduced by the Shenzhen-based technology company Kuang-Chi, also come with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and 5G connectivity.

3D-printed ventilator valves

Italy’s death toll from the global COVID-19 pandemic has surpassed China, dealing a heavy blow to its health care system as it struggles to keep up with a flood of critical patients in its hospitals.

3D printed ventilator valves

3D printed ventilator valves

Consequently, the country lacks sufficient masks and gloves for their doctors and nurses, and most critically – ventilators. One Brescia-based business stepped in to help after a hospital ran out of valves needed for its ventilators. The company, Isinnova, developed its own prototype for valves using a 3D printer.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.



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