Rwanda deploys robots in treating Covid-19 patients

Tuesday May 12 2020

This photo taken on April 28, 2020 shows a

This photo taken on April 28, 2020 shows a robot capable of taking elevators and navigating hallways on its own delivering food to a guest at a quarantine hotel housing people from Hubei province in Beijing. PHOTO | JING XUAN TENG | AFP 

ARAFAT MUGABO
By ARAFAT MUGABO
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Rwanda will this week begin using humanoid robots in coronavirus treatment centres to minimise human interaction.

Dr Daniel Ngamije, Rwanda’s Minister of Health, on Friday said four CRUZR robots had been tested in treating Covid-19 patients and doctors trained on how to operate them.

The robots will be used in monitoring patient’s vital signs including temperature, heart rate, blood, and oxygen levels and relay response to doctors and nurses remotely.

“One robot can screen 200 patients for temperature in one minute. When the doctor wants to discuss with the patient in words where the robot is stationed, the machine has videoconference capacity of connecting the doctor to have a live conversation with the patient,” said Dr Ngamije.

He added that a doctor can check up on a Covid-19 patient more than four times a day, depending on their condition, thus increasing the chances of contacting the virus.

The robots are manufactured by Kigali-based Belgian robotic tech firm Zorabots and will be deployed throughout the pandemic.

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Its features include facial recognition capabilities, can enforce proper mask wearing, and deliver food, water and medicine in and out of the wards, according to the Health Ministry.

The project is being run by the Ministry of Health in partnership with Ministry of Informational and Technology, Rwanda Biomedical Centre, Rwanda Information Society Authority (RISA), and Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority (RURA).

However, the cost of the project has not been specified.

Rwanda as at Monday had recorded 285 coronavirus cases with 150 recoveries. No deaths have been recorded.

The country has two main Covid-19 treatment centres—Kanyinya in the capital Kigali and Nyamata in southeastern Rwanda. There are also 48 secondary treatment centres in each district hospital.

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