The Ghanaian government has partnered with an American startup, Zipline, to make use of delivery drones for COVID-19 test in rural areas. This new move is aimed at speeding up the testing process outside major cities in the country.
Zipline conducted its first coronavirus test flight on the 1st of April 2020. It will now fly samples collected from more than 1,000 health facilities in rural areas to labs in the country’s capital Accra and Kumasi, its second-largest city.
In a statement, Keller Rinaudo, Zipline’s CEO, said that “using contactless drone delivery to transport COVID-19 test samples will allow the government to respond to the pandemic and help save lives more quickly.”
As the coronavirus pandemic continues to take its toll on the global health sector and economy with a shrewd threat to humankind, the world has recorded 2,430,728 cases, 637,328 recoveries and 166,271 deaths as of 3:20 pm, April 20 2020. This deadly virus has put governments on the hot seat, occupied scientists with a quest for a cure in their laboratories while health workers put their lines on the line as they battle tirelessly to save lives.
As of the time of this writing 3:20 pm, April 20 2020, Ghana recorded 1042 cases of the novel pandemic. The government’s new engagement with the use of drone technology to speed up testing would have a significant impact on its health sector and territory. In addition to accelerating testings rates, this new engagement would contribute to reducing the number of coronavirus deaths the West African country would record since fresh cases would be easily identified and contained at an early stage.
Also, the use of drone technology for coronavirus testing in Ghana would help in stemming the spread of the virus in the country. This means that the number of people that would come in contact with blood samples would be limited, sparing the lives of many health workers and delivery persons.
Although this new move is laudable, one of the downsides of drone deliveries include response to weather, which could affect a drone’s flight. For instance, a headwind could cut into a drone’s range dramatically or a wind that exceeds the drone’s top airspeed. This could lead to failed deliveries or hinder the launch of a flight till when the weather is favourable. The government should put this into a proper consideration as it comes up with more strategies to contain the new coronavirus within its borders.