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Robots boost Rwanda's fight against COVID-19

Anti-epidemic robots can screen 50 to 150 people per minute among other vital tasks

Felix Tih   | 20.05.2020
Robots boost Rwanda's fight against COVID-19 Photo by Rwanda Biomedical Centre

ANKARA 

Robots are now part of Rwanda’s fight against COVID-19 and will help minimize risk of infections among health care workers, authorities said on Tuesday.

Five anti-epidemic robots – named Akazuba, Ikirezi, Mwiza, Ngabo, and Urumuri – will be mainly used to administer temperature checks, monitor patient status, and keep medical records of COVID-19 patients, the Health Ministry announced in a series of tweets.

“These high-tech robots have the capacity to screen 50 to 150 people per minute, deliver food and medication to patient rooms, capture data and notify officers on duty about detected abnormalities,” the ministry said.

Health Minister Ngamije Daniel said the robots will fasten service delivery and help protect the lives of valuable health workers.

“Medics and other frontline workers visit patients’ room many times to deliver medication, meals, carry out tests, among other things – and this may increase their risk of contracting the virus,” he was quoted as saying by local daily The New Times.

The robots are the result of joint efforts by the Rwandan Ministry of ICT and Innovation and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). 

“The infectious nature of COVID-19 calls for technological innovations to tackle the pandemic. This is why Rwanda has introduced robots and drones among other high-tech initiatives to enhance efficiency in the fight,” ICT and Innovation Minister Paula Ingabire said.

UNDP representative Stephen Rodriques said the project marks the “beginning of a great collaboration […] that’s part of a broader partnership” with the East African country. 

Rwanda, a major innovation and technology hub in Africa, has recorded 308 coronavirus cases so far, with zero deaths and 209 recoveries, according to official figures.

To date, more than 52,300 tests have been carried out in the country of over 12 million.

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