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Rwanda deploys robots to treat coronavirus patients

By News Desk

At the Kanyinya COVID-19 treatment facility, a short distance from Rwanda’s capital Kigali, Akazuba, Ikizere and Ngabo reported for duty, but these are no ordinary health care workers, but robots.

The robots were deployed by the country, in a bid to minimize contact between patients infected with the coronavirus and doctors and nurses, to carry out simple tasks like taking temperatures and monitoring patients.

Before this, Rwanda had deployed already deployed drones to deliver blood and enforce restrictions designed to slow the spread of COVID-19. There are two more robots at the country’s other COVID-19 treatment centre, Nyamata, in southeast Kigali.

The sleek white robots, with big bright blue eyes and a rather human appearance, were donated by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and are helping frontline workers tackle the coronavirus crisis in the East African nation which so far has 355 confirmed cases of the COVID-19 disease.

A medical doctor at the 75-bed facility, which housed 65 patients, David Turatsinze, said: The three robots that we have are part of the treating team”.

By relaying messages to doctors and helping the team assess the effectiveness of their clinical decisions, the robots cut the number of bedside visits that doctors have to make.

Also, a biomedical engineer, who works as a health technology operations specialist at the ministry of health, Francine Umutesi, said the robots were a first for Africa and had the potential to offer even more support to medical teams.

According to her, it doesn’t remove the tasks the doctors are supposed to do, it’s just complementing their efforts.

Officials said the robots will be programmed to carry out additional tasks.

“In the future if they are programmed to take even blood pressure and the (blood) sugar, that definitely would be so helpful,” said Turatsinze.

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