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Last week, Rwandan Health Minister, Daniel Ngamije revealed that subsequently the East African country will begin the use of humanoid robots in its coronavirus treatment centres to minimise human interaction.

The robots which were manufactured by Kigali-based Belgian robotic tech firm ZoraBots will be deployed throughout the pandemic. Some of the robots which were already in Rwanda will be programmed to embody epidemic features while the rest will be imported. According to Ngamije, “the robots will be used as the interface between doctors and patients to avoid any possible human contact.”

In addition, Ngamije disclosed that the CRUZR robots had been tested in treating COVID-19 patients and doctors were trained on how to operate them. The humanoids will be used in monitoring a patient’s vital sign including temperature, heart rate, blood, and oxygen levels and relay responses to doctors and nurses remotely. “One robot can screen 200 patients for temperature in one minute,” Ngamije said.

Similarly, Rwanda’s health minister 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 contracting the virus. However, “when the doctor wants to discuss with the patient in words where the robot is stationed, the machine has video conference capacity of connecting the doctor to have a live conversation with the patient,” Ngamije affirmed.

Other features of the humanoids include facial recognition capabilities, proficiency in delivering food, water and medicine in and out of hospital wards, and can enforce proper mask-wearing at any given time. Asides being allocated to treatment centres, Ngamije asserted that the robots will be used to measure temperatures in other public places such as bus stops and entrances of shopping arcades.

The global spread of COVID-19 has seen robotic technologies and artificial intelligence as an effective and safe resource in combating the pandemic. Ultimately, with the numerous features these humanoids possess, they help keep doctors protected from the coronavirus pandemic thereby deterring its further spread.

With its recent deployment in Rwanda, the robots will assist frontline health workers in curbing the spread of the virus while adhering to social distancing.

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, the East African country has deployed drones to raise public awareness about the pandemic. As of Wednesday, May 13, 2020, Rwanda recorded 286 coronavirus cases with 153 recoveries. No deaths have been recorded.

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