Coronavirus has been declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the deadly virus has claimed over 4,600 lives, infecting more than 1,26,000 people around the world. While the situation in Hong Kong has largely been under control with only 129 cases reported so far, the government isn't taking any chances and has deployed robots to disinfect its subway trains.
Robots to disinfect Hong Kong subway
Subway transport systems carry a large number of people in confined spaces and while that makes them an efficient mode of mass transit, it can become a hotbed for viruses in the event of an infectious disease outbreak like the coronavirus.
Hong Kong's Mass Transit Railway (MTR) subway carries millions of passengers daily and in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the government-owned operator this week rolled out robots with one objective: to disinfect trains and stations.
How do they work?
The robot, which looks like a mini-fridge on wheels, sprays a hydrogen peroxide solution to disinfect surfaces and is used as an addition to cleaning staff and take care of tiny gaps that are inaccessible by hand, the company said in a statement. The robot will be assigned to areas where a patient that has tested positive for COVID-19 for decontaminating the area.
The robots can either be controlled remotely or given a pre-programmed route to follow and it takes the robot about four hours to disinfect a whole train. The robots might be small but they don't come cheap. A fleet of 20 robots cost HK$ 1 million, which is about $129,000 after currency conversion.
Last month, it was reported that a station officer at Mong Kok East MTR station had tested positive for COVID-19 and one of the robots was used to disinfect the office where he worked.
Face mask-making machines
In addition to the robots, the MTR also plans to introduce their very own face mask-making machines, which are expected to go live in the second half of the year and will produce masks for MTR employees. According to local news publication Ming Pao, the machines can produce as many as 10,000 face masks per day.