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Singapore hospital disinfects patient rooms using Xenex Lightstrike robots

Terumo Singapore says the robots can disinfect a room within 15 minutes.

Singapore hospital disinfects patient rooms using Xenex Lightstrike robots

The Singaporean arm of global medical supplier company Terumo recently partnered with Xenex to deploy a fleet of Lightstrike robots at one of Singapore's general hospitals in a bid to thoroughly disinfect hospital rooms of pathogens.

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The deployment follows the hospital's eight-month trial of the robotic technology as part of its infection prevention strategy. During the trial, tests were carried out before and after standard cleaning protocols, and after use of the Lightstrike robots to validate their ability to destroy a variety of pathogens.

Speaking to ZDNet, Terumo Singapore managing director Kevin Seto explained how using the robots has helped hospital cleaning teams to meet cleaning and disinfection protocols.

"We can see with the recent jump in COVID-19 cases, the healthcare system is being stretched and the disinfection robots can help minimise infection risks and avoid human error," he said.

According to Seto, the cleaning and disinfection process at a hospital typically takes up to four hours for one room, whereas the robots can disinfect each room within 15 minutes.

"It's fast, safe, and effective," he said. "Each robot can disinfect a number of rooms in one day. This will significantly reduce the turnaround time for hospitals."

Seto also assured that the work performed by Lightstrike robots is complementary to the existing work of cleaning staff rather than a replacement as it is deployed into a room after the usual cleaning protocols are carried out.

See also: Robots are learning workplace etiquette at MIT (TechRepublic)

Each Lightstrike robot is powered by pulsed xenon ultraviolet light that Terumo Singapore says can deliver up to 4,300 times more germicidal UV pathogen killing intensity than mercury UV technologies, as well as penetrate the cell walls of pathogens.

A recent study by the Texas Biomedical Research Institute found the Lightstrike robot could destroy live SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, in two minutes.

"Less than half of the surfaces in hospital rooms are disinfected because there just isn't time to get into the nooks and crannies that are invisible to the human eye, and can remain on tray tables and doorknobs. Lightstrike is able to destroy any pathogen that may have been missed during the manual cleaning process," Seto said.

He added that given the current environment with the coronavirus pandemic, he expects there will be an increased demand for such technologies to help with reducing healthcare-related infection risks and enhancing existing infection control practices.

"When we can see the superbug that causes the infection becomes resistant to antibiotics, cleaning chemicals, and even hand sanitisers, robotics for disinfection are needed in the battle against superbugs, which is what our LightStrike robots can provide," he said.

Terumo Singapore is currently in talks with other hospitals in Singapore to roll out the Lightstrike robots, Seto said.

Xenex LightStrike robots are used at over 500 healthcare facilities worldwide, including in Singapore, Thailand, Japan, South Korea, Canada, US, Europe, South America, and Africa. 

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