KIGALI () At the Kanyinya COVID 19 treatment facility a short distance from Rwanda’s capital Kigali, Akazuba, Ikizere and Ngabo report for duty, but these are no ordinary health care workers.In a bid to minimise contact between patients infected with the coronavirus and doctors and nurses, the country has deployed the three robots to carry out simple tasks like taking temperatures and monitoring patients.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.”The three robots that we have are part of the treating team,” said David Turatsinze, a doctor at the 75 bed facility, which housed 65 patients when the team visited.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.Francine Umutesi, a bio medical engineer who works as a health technology operations specialist at the ministry of health, said the robots were a first for Africa and had the potential to offer even more support to medical teams.”It doesn’t remove the tasks the doctors are supposed to do, it’s just complementing their efforts,” she said.Rwanda already uses 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 south east Kigali.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.UK govt advisors sound warning on easing virus lockdownSenior advisors to Boris Johnson government on Saturday warned it was too early to lift the lockdown, just two days before the UK further relaxes coronavirus restrictions. As people revelled in soaring temperatures by flocking to beaches and parks, several members of the government own Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) told ministers they risked a second wave of infection.
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