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Myanmar Deploys Robots to Curb Spread of COVID-19 in Hospitals

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Using robots in hospitals with COVID-19 patients is expected to reduce human contact and lower the risk of virus transmission. Photo credit: parinyabinsuk

Robots are helping keep medical workers in Myanmar safer, lowering the risk of further spreading the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) by reducing contact with confirmed cases and  suspected patients.  

Trolley robot or TR 201, invented by the Mechatronic Engineering Department of Yangon Technological University (YTU), is a drink trolley equipped with sensors. It moves along a path automatically. Container robot or CR 201, invented by the Mechatronic Engineering Department of Mandalay Technological University (MTU), carries items in a container basket. Together, these robots transport food and medicine and carry trash around the Phaunggyi COVID-19 medical center where they are deployed. They take on some of the tasks which can expose health care workers to the new coronavirus. The Phaunggyi COVID-19 medical center, set up on the outskirts of Yangon, can accommodate up to 200 patients.

Drones versus COVID-19

Aside from robots, Myanmar also engineered drones to support its fight against COVID-19. The Myanmar Aerospace Engineering University created a speaker-delivery and monitoring drone that can communicate messages remotely and an autopilot sprayer drone. They also created a robot spray cleaner and another trolley robot. 
 
The Education Ministry urged the education sector to assist the Health Ministry in combating the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Daw Phyu Phyu Tun, the man who helped invent TR201 at YTU, told the Irrawaddy. 

The idea to invent robots was proposed by Dr. Sabal Phyu of Waibargi Hospital in Yangon in a meeting with State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. 

“Virus transmission rates would be reduced if we can reduce the instances of contact with patients using these robots,” said Dr. Ko Ko Naing, the medical superintendent of the Phaunggyi COVID-19 medical center, according to the Irrawaddy report.

Other universities that helped create more robots for the Ministry of Health include the Government Technical School (Pyin Oo Lwin) under the Department of Technical and Vocational Education and Training, the School of Industrial Training and Education, the Government Technical Institute (Insein), and the Government Technical Institute (Shwe Pyi Thar).

Hospitals in Myanmar can expect more robots as Myanmar’s technological universities received additional funding from the Ministry of Education to invent more robots for hospital use. 

This article was first published by Greater Mekong Subregion (greatermekong.org) on 29 May 2020.