A drone sprays disinfectant at a village in Pingdingshan in China's central Henan province. Photo: STR / AFP

In the process of fighting the Covid-19 epidemic, fifth-generation (5G) technology and artificial-intelligence robots have helped reduce the risk of infection with applications such as high-definition live broadcasts and remote consultation and medical analysis.

A Beijing medical team recently held a remote case discussion with counterparts in Wuhan using 5G technology for the first time to improve the efficiency of diagnosis and treatment.

According to a Xinhua report, Tong Zhaohui, vice-president of Beijing Chaoyang Hospital and a specialist in the treatment of critical respiratory-disease patients, participated in the online medical consultation in Wuhan.

Tong said the 5G remote case discussion focused on patients in a critical condition and helped improve the diagnosis and treatment process. He said hospitals in Wuhan could also be connected with each other with 5G technology.

Luo Yong, deputy director of Wuhan Union Hospital in Xiyuan district, said the use of 5G technology had brought together “think-tanks,” or medical experts, who were thousands of kilometers apart, and gathered “elite soldiers” from all over the country to confront the coronavirus.

Experts said 5G technology, with characteristics such as large bandwidths and low delay, could make diagnosis and treatment more efficient, convenient and safe, and have far-reaching significance for telemedicine and other medical applications. 

First 5G network remote consultation. Photo: Xinhua

Remote consultation systems have been established in many places with 5G networks and applied in epidemic prevention and disease control, according to reports in Chinese media.

Robots have also been used to support medical staff, such as in Wuhan Union Hospital. They can help health-care workers carry out guidance, disinfection, cleaning and drug-delivery duties. The deployment of robots can reduce cross-infection among medical staff and improve the level of isolation management in wards.

With the support of 5G technology, AI robots launched by a number of technology firms have become increasingly popular in hospitals and medical institutions in Hubei, Shanghai, Shandong, Gansu, and other places. They have in effect helped boost health-care manpower and reduced the risk of cross-infection among medical staff.

In Guangdong, Fujian and some other provinces, 5G infrared thermometers have been set up in hospitals, railway and subway stations, and other public places. 

With advanced thermal-imaging technology and environmental-data algorithms, the thermometers can quickly identify and track people with abnormal body temperature. 

According to a report by the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone Daily, 5G robots have played an effective role in the transportation system in terms of epidemic prevention with functions such as voice prompts, code-scanning, speed control and dynamic body-temperature detection. 

In addition, police have launched drones to assist with their duties.

Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) can carry QR codes and fly to the vehicles queuing up at a toll station so that the drivers can pay in advance, said Xie Xueliang, an officer of the Huangtian Police Station of the Shenzhen Baoan Public Security Bureau.

If anyone is spotted not wearing a mask, the police can warn the person through the drone. 

“Robots can help reduce the risk of infection caused by close contact between people. It is a good thing for the police and us,” said Xiao Zhao, a Shenzhen resident. 

It will be cloudy and rainy in Shenzhen for the next few days, and the number of vehicles entering Shenzhen is expected to increase. Baoan police near the airport have deployed more officers to the joint checkpoints since February 14.

“The supply of raincoats, tents and other materials is relatively tight, while it is inconvenient to be on duty with raincoats; 5G robots can play a good role in transportation system,” Xie said.

“Robots will not be exhausted or moody but have high efficiency,” the officer said.

 The story was first published at ATimesCN.com.