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Rwanda deploys robots in Covid-19 fight

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KIGALI – Rwanda has launched the use of robots in the fight against COVID-19, in a move aimed at reducing contact between medics and patients.

The move is expected to limit the risk of healthcare workers from contracting the virus.

The robots were launched at the Kanyinya COVID-19 Treatment Centre by the Ministry of Health with support from the United Nations Development Programme.

 The high-tech robots can perform a number of tasks related to COVID-19 management, including mass temperature screening, delivering food and medication to patients, capturing data, detecting people who are not wearing masks, among others.

Made by Zora Bots, a Belgian company specialised in robotics solutions, they are designed with various advanced features to support doctors and nurses at designated treatment centres, and can also be leveraged into screening sites in the country.

According to information from Rwanda’s Ministry of ICT and Innovation, the robots have the capacity to screen between 50 to 150 people per minute, capture both video and audio data, and notify officers on duty about detected abnormalities for timely response and case management.

Rwanda’s Minister of Health, Dr Daniel Ngamije said that the idea of using the robots is aimed at reducing exposure of health workers to possible Covid-19 infection,

“Medics and other front-liners visit patients’ room many times to deliver medication, meals, carry out tests, among other things – and this may pose a risk of contracting the virus,” Dr Ngamije said.

“These robots will fasten service delivery while protecting our valuable health workers against COVID-19 exposure.”

There haven’t been cases of medics that have caught the virus in Rwanda, according to Dr Ngamije.  However, he said there is a cleaner at a COVID-19 treatment facility in the country that tested positive for the virus.

Rwanda’s Minister of ICT and Innovation, Paula Ingabire said that COVID-19 has accelerated the need for digital solutions across various industries, especially in the health sector.

“There are various innovative solutions being applied to combat COVID-19, and the robots delivered today in these treatment centres, will be deployed to support our frontline health workers in treating and containing the pandemic by taking on routine tasks, Ingabire said.”