The Internet - The first Worldwide Tool of Unification ("The End of History")

" ... Now I give you something that few think about: What do you think the Internet is all about, historically? Citizens of all the countries on Earth can talk to one another without electronic borders. The young people of those nations can all see each other, talk to each other, and express opinions. No matter what the country does to suppress it, they're doing it anyway. They are putting together a network of consciousness, of oneness, a multicultural consciousness. It's here to stay. It's part of the new energy. The young people know it and are leading the way.... "

" ... I gave you a prophecy more than 10 years ago. I told you there would come a day when everyone could talk to everyone and, therefore, there could be no conspiracy. For conspiracy depends on separation and secrecy - something hiding in the dark that only a few know about. Seen the news lately? What is happening? Could it be that there is a new paradigm happening that seems to go against history?... " Read More …. "The End of History"- Nov 20, 2010 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll)

"Recalibration of Free Choice"– Mar 3, 2012 (Kryon Channelling by Lee Carroll) - (Subjects: (Old) Souls, Midpoint on 21-12-2012, Shift of Human Consciousness, Black & White vs. Color, 1 - Spirituality (Religions) shifting, Loose a Pope “soon”, 2 - Humans will change react to drama, 3 - Civilizations/Population on Earth, 4 - Alternate energy sources (Geothermal, Tidal (Paddle wheels), Wind), 5 – Financials Institutes/concepts will change (Integrity – Ethical) , 6 - News/Media/TV to change, 7 – Big Pharmaceutical company will collapse “soon”, (Keep people sick), (Integrity – Ethical) 8 – Wars will be over on Earth, Global Unity, … etc.) - (Text version)

“…5 - Integrity That May Surprise…

Have you seen innovation and invention in the past decade that required thinking out of the box of an old reality? Indeed, you have. I can't tell you what's coming, because you haven't thought of it yet! But the potentials of it are looming large. Let me give you an example, Let us say that 20 years ago, you predicted that there would be something called the Internet on a device you don't really have yet using technology that you can't imagine. You will have full libraries, buildings filled with books, in your hand - a worldwide encyclopedia of everything knowable, with the ability to look it up instantly! Not only that, but that look-up service isn't going to cost a penny! You can call friends and see them on a video screen, and it won't cost a penny! No matter how long you use this service and to what depth you use it, the service itself will be free.

Now, anyone listening to you back then would perhaps have said, "Even if we can believe the technological part, which we think is impossible, everything costs something. There has to be a charge for it! Otherwise, how would they stay in business?" The answer is this: With new invention comes new paradigms of business. You don't know what you don't know, so don't decide in advance what you think is coming based on an old energy world. ..."
(Subjects: Who/What is Kryon ?, Egypt Uprising, Iran/Persia Uprising, Peace in Middle East without Israel actively involved, Muhammad, "Conceptual" Youth Revolution, "Conceptual" Managed Business, Internet, Social Media, News Media, Google, Bankers, Global Unity,..... etc.)



Etiquette mavens say the book on manners must be rewritten, literally, to take into
account new technologies and social media (AFP Photo/Ed Jones)

A 2012 survey by Intel found that in several countries, a majority said they were put
off by "oversharing" of pictures and personal information on the
internet and smartphones (AFP Photo/Nicolas Asfouri)

German anti-hate speech group counters Facebook trolls

German anti-hate speech group counters Facebook trolls
Logo No Hate Speech Movement

Bundestag passes law to fine social media companies for not deleting hate speech

Honouring computing’s 1843 visionary, Lady Ada Lovelace. (Design of doodle by Kevin Laughlin)

Monday, May 11, 2020

Pandemic gives fresh momentum to digital voice technology

Yahoo – AFP, Rob Lever, May 10, 2020

Voice-activated digital assistants such as Amazon's Alexa and rivals from Google,
Apple and others may become more important in light of the virus pandemic (AFP
Photo/JUSTIN SULLIVAN)

Washington (AFP) - In a world suddenly fearful of touch, voice technology is getting a fresh look.

Voice-activated systems such as Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa and Apple's Siri have seen strong growth in recent years, and the virus pandemic could accelerate that, analysts say.

Voice assistants are not only answering queries and shopping, but also being used for smart home control and for a range of business and medical applications which could see increased interest as people seek to limit personal contact.

"Voice has already made significant inroads into the smart home space and voice control can mean avoiding commonly touched surfaces around the home from smartphones, to TV remotes, light switches, thermostats, door handles and more," said analyst Jonathan Collins of ABI Research.

The pandemic is likely to provide "additional motivation and incentive for voice control in the home that will help drive awareness and adoption for a range of additional smart home devices and applications," Collins said.

ABI estimates that voice control device shipments for smart home devices hit 141 million last year, and in 2020 will grow globally by close to 30 percent.

For the broader market of voice assistants, Juniper Research estimates 4.2 billion devices in use this year, growing to 8.4 billion by 2024, with much of the interactions on smartphones.

More people are using voice-activated technologies like Google Assistant during
the virus lockdowns (AFP Photo/Ethan Miller)

Smart locks, doorbells

Collins said he expected to see growing interest in smart locks and doorbells, along with other smart home systems, to eliminate the need for personal contact and face-to-face interaction as a result of the pandemic.

Avi Greengart, a technology analyst and consultant with Techsponential, said data is not yet available but that "anecdotally, voice assistant usage is way up" as a result of lockdowns.

Greengart said he expects a wider range of business applications for voice technologies in response to health and safety concerns.

"Looking forward, office spaces will need move towards more touch-free controls; voice can be a solution, although motion triggers for lighting is often easier and more friction-free," he said.

"However, I do expect smart speakers -- along with an emailed list of commands -- to be a common feature at hotels and other rental properties. The fewer touch points, the better."

Post-pandemic outlook

Julian Issa of Futuresource Consulting said there appears to be "an uptick in the use of voice assistants since the virus outbreak" during the pandemic.

Robots are already being deployed in medical situations
in the pandemic, but researchers say improved voice
technologies could enable them to play an even 
greater role (AFP Photo/
Manjunath Kiran)

"Whilst avoiding touching surfaces may play a small part in this, it is mainly due to consumers spending far more time at home with their devices," Issa said.

Chris Pennell, another Futuresource analyst, said he expects adoption of digital assistants is likely to accelerate, "especially in client facing areas such as healthcare, retail and entertainment."

One example of this already in use is a Mayo Clinic tool using Amazon Alexa which allows people to assess their symptoms and access information on the virus.

Other medical applications are also in the works for voice technologies.

Veton Kepuska, a Florida Tech computer engineering professor who specializes in speech recognition technologies, is seeking to develop voice-activated medical robots that can help limit physical contact and contagion.

"If we had this infrastructure in place, we would have been better off today," said Kepuska, who was spurred by the COVID-19 outbreak to seek funding for the research effort.

Kepuska said this effort could lead to a "humanoid" medical robot which can take over many tasks from doctors or nurses with voice interaction.

"The pandemic has created a situation where we need to think about how to deliver services to people who need our help without putting ourselves in danger," he said.

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Anti-5G activists go to court to stop ‘gamble with public health’

DutchNews, May 5, 2020 

A Dutch courtroom. Photo: Odi Busman

A group of anti-5G activists went to court on Monday in an effort to stop the nationwide roll-out of the faster telecommunications system. 

The group, Stop5GNL, argues that the government is taking a gamble by sanctioning the roll-out even though it has not been established that the technology does not form any risk to public health. 

‘This is unethical. You do not gamble with the health of the public,’ lawyer Thom Beukers said during Monday’s hearing in The Hague. 

According to the foundation, ‘thousands’ of academic publications and research projects raise at least doubts about whether the electromagnetic radiation used by 5G services could lead to a risk to health. 

The foundation has also stressed it has no connection to the recent wave of arson attacks on telecom masts. 

Although the public health institute RIVM and the national health council have both said that 5G will not expose people to higher than permitted levels of electromagnetic radiation, the council is working on a new report, ordered by parliament, the Volkskrant has reported. 

The results of that report are due in July. 

And in January, Telecoms supervisory body Agenschap Telecom and the RIVM said that while radiation from 5G mobile networks testing sites in the Netherlands is within European limits, it does need to monitored as telecoms providers prepare to activate the new mobile core networks. 

Some 15 licences for testing sites have been granted in the Netherlands and random testing of five sites has not produced worrying levels of radiation, the report published by both organisations said. It is important, however, to ‘keep a finger on the pulse’. 

The court will rule on the case on May 25.

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

France refuses coronavirus funds to Amazon in labour dispute

Rfi.fr – Yahoo, 4 May 2020

Following last month's court ruling, Amazon shut down its sites in France AFP/File

Paris (AFP) -France's labour ministry said Monday that it denied a request by Amazon for emergency funds to pay employees during the coronavirus crisis, after the US giant shut its warehouses over a court order to sell only essential items.

The ministry said Amazon France asked last Thursday to benefit from coronavirus crisis funds that cover about 84 percent of net pay for workers facing temporary layoffs because of a drop in business.

Amazon France confirmed it sought the funds to cover salaries for some 10,000 employees at its six main distribution sites in the country.

The online retailer has been locked in a battle with labour unions which say not enough was done to mitigate contagion risk for staff working in close proximity to process a flood of orders amid the nationwide lockdown, which saw traditional shops shuttered.

Last month, an appeals court upheld a ruling that sharply curtailed Amazon's operations and ordered management to review safety measures. The court said only digital products, office equipment, groceries, medical and personal care products could be delivered in the meantime.

But Amazon said it was impossible to comply with the order, and completely shut down the six sites from mid-April until May 5, though it maintained full pay for employees.

"The recent decision by the Court of Versailles has obviously had an impact on our French operations... As a result, we filed for the help that other companies in France have benefited from," the company said in a statement.

"Our logistics operations are technically complex and the court's fine of 100,000 euros ($109,000) for any infraction means that even accidental shipping of non-authorised products, on the order of 0.1 percent of the total, could lead to over one billion euros of fines per week," it said.

Unions called Amazon's request for employment aid "absolutely scandalous," and accused the firm of getting around the court order by fulfilling French orders from its other warehouses in Europe.

Dozens of employees had staged walkouts at several sites before the ruling to demand better workplace protection during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Amazon reported last week that despite a surge in orders worldwide because of virus lockdowns, its profit dropped 29 percent in the first quarter of this year, to $2.5 billion, because of COVID-19 expenses, including measures for "keeping employees safe".

The company is in the process of recruiting some 175,000 more employees to cope with surging demand.

Friday, May 1, 2020

Covid-19: Nearly two million Australians download coronavirus tracker app

The Star – AFP, Monday, 27 Apr 2020

The new COVIDSafe app by the Australian government as seen on a smartphone
in Sydney. More than one million Australians have downloaded a new government
smartphone app designed to make coronavirus contact tracing easier, as the country
moves to ease stay-at-home restrictions. — AFP

SYDNEY: Nearly two million Australians rushed to download a new smartphone app designed to make coronavirus contact tracing easier, the government said Monday, overlooking privacy concerns in the hope of speeding up the end of social-distancing lockdowns.

Health Minister Greg Hunt hailed take-up since the app was released Sunday evening as "extraordinary", saying 1.9 million people had downloaded the program in less than 24 hours.

The nation of 25 million people has uncovered just over 6,700 instances of coronavirus, with the rate of new cases falling to 10-20 per day despite widespread testing.

Like governments around the world, Australian authorities are under growing pressure to ease restrictions on travel and public gatherings imposed to halt the spread of the virus, but which have devastated the economy.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said many of the restrictions, which include a ban on travel to Australia by non-residents, will last until at least September.

But he has said some easing could begin sooner if authorities can expand testing for the virus and improve tracing to catch new outbreaks quickly.

Experts heralded the new COVIDSafe app as a key way to implement the contact tracing.

The app works by using smartphones' Bluetooth function to detect other users nearby.

If a user tests positive, anyone who has been in close proximity can then be notified, making rapid tracking of the disease much easier.

The system is seen as a key stepping stone to removing social distancing restrictions that have shuttered bars, restaurants, offices and most classrooms for the last month.

There has been widespread concern about what Morrison's conservative government – which has a record of pushing the boundaries of civil rights protections – would do with the data.

But Hunt and other officials were at pains Monday to stress the app is not a location tracker and that only state health authorities will use the data.

"This is simply about helping us find and alert anybody who may have been exposed to the virus," Hunt said.

"It means that they can be diagnosed and protected earlier, and it can protect our nurses and our doctors, our seniors and our vulnerable Australians."

Chief medical officer Brendan Murphy has said a "good take-up" of the app would be just over 50% of the population.

Release of the app was welcomed by Australia's Rugby Union authority, which like other professional sports is in dire economic straits after having to suspend all competitions.

Rugby Australia chief Paul McLean said the app would "provide the best opportunity for us, as a community, to move more quickly to reduce restrictions... and allow our Rugby clubs to get back to training and playing".

In parallel with the app's release, Australian authorities have significantly ramped up testing for the coronavirus, making the tests available to anyone with flu-like symptoms.

Some Australian states with zero new coronavirus cases have already announced an easing of stay-at-home restrictions.

In the country's most populous state of New South Wales, most restrictions are set to remain in place until least mid-May, although Sydney's famed Bondi Beach will reopen Tuesday for surfing and swimming.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Online sales explode but markets for holidays and high fashion collapse

DutchNews, April 28, 2020  

Photo: Depositphotos.com

Online shopping has exploded since the corona crisis but shops selling holidays and luxury goods have seen a huge drop in revenue, new figures show. 

Market researcher GfK, which only looked at the non-food sector, found that Easter week was particularly busy ,with with peak growth of 72%, representing tens of millions of euros in extra earnings compared to the same week last year. 

‘Before coronavirus many online shops saw growth of 16% to 18%, now it’s 60% to 70%,’ Wijnand Jongen, director of Thuiswinkel.org, told broadcaster NOS

Most of the purchases have to do with the fact that consumers are living and working at home. ‘Everything to do with entertainment, DIY, the garden and exercising is doing really well,’Jongen said. Working from home has increased the sale of computer mice, printers, chairs, laptops and headphones. ‘Some online shops can’t source the stuff quickly enough,’ Jongen said. 

By contrast, online outlets for holidays and tourism in general have seen their businesses collapse. Expensive fashion items have had to make way for comfortable clothes, like pajamas and jogging trousers, underwear and comfortable shoes, GfK found. 

Among the shops profiting most are highstreet staple Hema and cosmetics chain Rituals, which saw their online sales triple. Hema has been grappling with a 30% fall in physical sales.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Supermarkets take on more staff as home deliveries soar

DutchNews, April 24, 2020

Photo: DutchNews.nl

Dutch supermarkets are taking on hundreds of extra workers to cope with the increasing demand for home deliveries, broadcaster NOS said on Friday. 

Customers are not only ordering online more frequently, but are buying more food as well – because they are no longer eating out at the office or in cafes and restaurants, NOS said. 

Demand for home deliveries from Albert Heijn and the Coop supermarkets has gone up five-fold. Picnic, which only offers online shopping has seen demand triple while Jumbo reports a 50% increase. 

Demand is so high that customers are being faced with delivery delays stretching from several days to two weeks. Picnic has been forced to drop its pledge for next day deliveries, NOS said. 

Market research group IRI suggests that supermarket turnover so far this year has reached €11.4bn, a rise of €1bn on 2019. This, according to the CNV trade union federation, should encourage supermarkets to give all staff a bonus. 

‘A lot is being asked of staff,’ spokeswoman Jacqueline Twerda said. ‘They are facing increasing pressure, they have to be flexible and they are coming into constant contact with others. Supermarket sales are soaring, but they see nothing back.’ 

The FNV trade union says it would prefer a structural pay rise for supermarket staff. 

The current supermarket sector pay and conditions deal expired on April 1.

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Dutch see apps as key to relaxing lockdown, tracing corona suspects

DutchNews, April 7, 2020

Reporters listen during the press conference. Photo: Bart Maat ANP

The Netherlands is looking into introducing two apps as a key part of controlling the spread of coronavirus, prime minister Mark Rutte and health minister Hugo de Jonge told a press conference on Tuesday evening.

‘Experts tell us that identifying sources and tracing contacts will be crucial for relaxing the rules, without over-taxing hospitals,’ Rutte said. ‘But it is still early days and privacy is key,’ the prime minister said. 

The apps, one of which would alert people via bluetooth if they had been in contact with someone who had coronavirus, and a second which would keep potential patients in touch with doctors, are currently being further researched, Rutte said. 

The apps will form part of the more intensive testing strategy which is currently being introduced. They would, in effect, take over some of the work of local health boards which do not have the capacity to trace all potential coronavirus contacts. 

Compulsory 

Asked if people would be forced to install the apps on their phones, health minister De Jonge said it would be important that as many people as possible used them.

‘There is no point in carrying out all the testing if you don’t do anything with the results,’ he said. ‘We are looking at whether you can require everyone to do it.’ Contact tracing is still being done in the north of the country where there are relatively few coronavirus cases, the minister said.


Both Rutte and De Jonge emphasised that despite promising figures in terms of hospital and intensive care admissions, it is still too early to say if the ‘intelligent lockdown’ in the Netherlands will be gradually eased from April 28, when the current deadline expires. 

‘The figures show we are not doing this for nothing, but we could not make a bigger mistake than to relax the rules in one go,’ Rutte said. ‘We will then hit a new and bigger peak in infections.’ 

What we are doing now is crucial for our economic recovery, he said. ‘We are looking at scenarios for an intelligent way back. Everyone should start thinking about how we can further adapt to the 1.5 metre society. The way back will be step by step and based on science.’

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Virus breaks the mold for telework in office-bound Japan

Yahoo - AFPMarch 31, 2020

Japan's government has struggled to induce firms to offer teleworking, but the coronavirus
epidemic means many are now experimenting with working from home (AFP Photo/
CHARLY TRIBALLEAU)

The longstanding stereotype of Japan's office-bound "salaryman" is being tested as companies cautiously embrace working from home in a bid to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

Japan's government has for years been trying to encourage firms to implement "flexible working patterns", hoping that less demanding office hours will help women return to work after having children and men share more housework and childcare.

But uptake has been slow. A survey published last year found around 19 percent of companies offered a telework option, but just 8.5 percent of employees polled had tried it out.

Experts say part of the challenge is the social stigma attached to deviating from the "salaryman" stereotype of the suited-up office worker who proves his dedication by spending long hours at his desk.

Polls show "the Japanese still have this image that telework isn't real work because you're not physically in the office," said Haruka Kazama, an economist at the Mizuho research institute.

That's a view familiar to Yuki Sato, 35, currently experimenting with teleworking for the first time.

"The image of going to the office is very strong. You have to show that you work hard and long hours and that you help your colleagues," Sato told AFP.

"With telework, we can't show our goodwill and motivation," he added.

Yuki Sato has been working at home since February, and has more time to spend 
with his two daughters and wife (AFP Photo/Behrouz MEHRI)

'It's actually nice'

But the spread of the new coronavirus has forced employers and workers to give telework a try in Japan, and Sato for one has been pleasantly surprised.

"Unlike I'd expected, it's actually nice. Much easier than going to the office," said Sato, who has been working at home since February when the government began asking workers to telework to avoid spreading the new coronavirus.

He works for a Tokyo start-up, Phybbit, which offers services to counter digital fraud, and had never before tried working from home.

"This experience has completely changed my image of teleworking," he told AFP in the small office he has set up in the family home he shares with his wife and two children.

For a start, it saves him two hours of commuting a day, meaning he has more time with his daughters, whose schools are currently closed.

"I can also give them their bath in the evening, something I could never do during the week before because I was never home before 8pm."

Sato's wife Hitomi takes primary care of their daughters, six-year-old Yurina and four-year-old Hidano and said she has welcomed the helping hand at home.

"I'm glad that he's here, and the girls are happy to spend time with their dad," she said.

The Japanese government has renewed its push for teleworking and off-peak commuting in recent years, hoping to ease the burden on the notoriously congested Tokyo public transport system, particularly ahead of the Olympics.

But there hasn't been much enthusiasm.

Japan's government hopes telework can help mothers return to employment after
 having children and ease the burden on Tokyo's notoriously congested transport 
system (AFP Photo/CHARLY TRIBALLEAU)

'Mindsets are changing'

Kunihiko Higa, a professor at the Tokyo Institute of Technology who specialises in flexible work options, attributes that to reluctant managers.

Many of them "consider teleworking only as a tool for workers," he told AFP.

"In other words, they don't understand that teleworking, if used in the right way, can be a management strategy tool."

The coronavirus outbreak appears to have achieved what government campaigns could not, forcing the hands of firms who may previously have been reluctant.

"The situation has put their backs against the wall. They've been forced to give their employees the choice to telework," said Kazama.

A poll carried out at the end of February by the Keidanren business association of nearly 400 major firms found nearly 70 percent had already begun implementing teleworking or were planning to because of the pandemic.

The switch hasn't been universal. Workers still cram onto commuter trains -- albeit in smaller numbers -- and Japan's parliament is hardly setting the tone, continuing to hold sessions and ministerial press conferences.

And there is no guarantee yet that companies will continue to allow teleworking when the crisis eases.

But experts said being forced to try teleworking was likely to leave a lasting impact in Japan, with companies beginning to see working from home as a feasible and even attractive option.

"I think mindsets are changing," said Kazama.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

3-D printers help save lives from virus in Italy

Yahoo – AFP, Arman SOLDIN, March 24, 2020

The margin of error for the 3-D printing, shown here, of Venturi respirator valves
is tiny (AFP Photo/Handout)

Rome (AFP) - They may not be a miracle cure or a vaccine, but respirator valves from 3-D printers have helped coronavirus patients breathe a little easer in the Italian epicentre of COVID-19.

Italy has thrown everything at a pandemic that has killed more than 6,000 people in just a month, more than anywhere else.

Hospitals in the northern Italian heart of the outbreak have had to make life-and-death decisions about which patients to try and save, and which to send home.

There are not enough beds, doctors, equipment -- and the severe cases keep flooding in.

Italy's death rate slowed slightly between Saturday and Monday, giving a glimmer of hope that the end is in sight.

Still, the Mediterranean country registered more than 2,000 fatalities and 16,000 confirmed infections in the three-day span.

Currently, more than 3,200 intensive care patients are receiving treatment for COVID-19.

Into this unfolding disaster stepped Alessandro Romaioli, a young engineer from an Italian company called Isinnova, which specialises in 3-D printing.

The company's usual products include earthquake sensors and bicycle parts.

But that changed when a local newspaper in Brescia, where the death and infection rates are among the highest in the world, contacted Romaioli and his startup, trying to find ways to help the city's overwhelmed hospital.

"They were asking if it was possible to 3-D-print Venturi valves" -- a critical part of a respirator machine -- Romaioli told AFP in a Skype interview from Brescia.

Romaioli had no idea.

The Isinnova team went to the hospital for a closer look at the part. They then drafted a blueprint for use by the 3-D printer.

No one was sure it would work because the margin of error for such valves is tiny.

"We printed four prototypes and brought them back to the hospital," Romaioli said. "And they told us they worked."

'Fantastic!'

The Brescia hospital staff were ecstatic.

"They tested them on patients and the results were excellent. They told us: 'Fantastic! Now we need 100 more of these'."

Mauro Borelli, the hospital director, was effusive in his praise for the printers.

"Our respirator valves had run out and we no longer knew how to give oxygen to our patients," Romaioli told the Il Fatto Quotidiano daily.

"The 3-D printing saved us."

Isinnova has also adapted diving masks so that they can be connected to respirators, and numerous other companies are trying to give a similar helping hand.

Calzedonia, an Italian fashion brand that usually makes lingerie and hosiery, said its plants began daily production of 10,000 face masks on Monday.

It promises to ramp up production to help meet seemingly endless demand.

Other companies retooling their equipment to help battle the stealth killer include Macron, an Italian sports apparel company, which is using its factories in China to produce masks, gloves and doctors' gowns.

The Italian-American automaker Fiat-Chrysler, which has suspended production across Europe, has pledged to make one million masks by May.

Friday, March 20, 2020

Thai hospitals deploy 'ninja robots' to aid virus battle

Yahoo – AFP, Pitcha DANGPRASITH and Lillian SUWANRUMPHA, March 19, 2020

The 'ninjas' have helped staff at four hospitals in and around Bangkok to reduce
their risk of infection by allowing doctors and nurses to speak to patients over a
video link (AFP Photo/Lillian SUWANRUMPHA)

Bangkok (AFP) - Thai hospitals are deploying "ninja robots" to measure fevers and protect the health of overburdened medical workers on the frontlines of the coronavirus outbreak.

First built to monitor recovering stroke patients, the machines have been quickly repurposed to help fight the disease, which has so far killed nearly 9,000 people around the world.

They have helped staff at four hospitals in and around Bangkok to reduce their risk of infection by allowing doctors and nurses to speak to patients over a video link.

"They can stand outside the room and communicate with patients inside through the robot," said Viboon Sangveraphunsiri of Chulalongkorn University.

Viboon's engineering team is racing to build more "ninjas" for another 10 
hospitals around the country (AFP Photo/Lillian SUWANRUMPHA)

Later models will be designed to bring food and medicine to patients, and could also eventually be used to disinfect hospital wards, Viboon told AFP.

His engineering team is racing to build more "ninjas" -- known as such because of their matte black exterior -- for another 10 hospitals around the country.

Thailand has more than 200 confirmed COVID-19 infections, including at least one death. More than 40 have recovered and been discharged from hospital.

Authorities recently ordered the closure of bars, massage parlours and entertainment venues to help prevent new cases.

Thai officials have so far stopped short of imposing the full
lockdowns seen in other countries (AFP Photo/Lillian 
SUWANRUMPHA)

New rules also require visitors entering the country to produce a health certificate.

Officials have so far stopped short of imposing the full lockdowns seen in other countries in a bid to contain damage to Thailand's crucial tourism sector.

But the government's reassurances that the pandemic is under control have not stopped bouts of panic buying in grocery stores.

Doctors are also urging Thais to stay home to curb the spread of the virus.