Hospitals in Thailand have begun using “ninja robots” to ease the burden on medical workers and doctors fighting to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

The robots, which were originally built to monitor recovering stroke patients, have been repurposed to measure patients’ fevers, AFP reported.

The machines have, as of Thursday, been used at four hospitals in and around Bangkok, according to the outlet. Their use has reduced the risk of infection and allowed doctors to speak with coronavirus patients through video chat.

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

Sangveraphunsiri told AFP that other models are being designed to deliver food and medicine to patients, as well as disinfect hospitals.

A Thai student carries out a demonstration of Smart Telemedicine Robots.
A Thai student carries out a demonstration of Smart Telemedicine Robots.EPA

Sangveraphunsiri and his engineering team plan to build more “ninja robots” (named for their black exterior) for at least 10 other hospitals.

Thailand has had more than 270 cases and only one death from COVID-19, according to the latest data from Johns Hopkins University.

The vast majority of infected people recover and most have only mild or moderate symptoms. But some victims, especially older adults or people with other health problems, develop a serious illness.