As the coronavirus pandemic continues to spread globally, different countries are taking a stand to address public health concerns. Spain, in particular, is turning to artificial intelligence by using robots to aid in the COVID-19 testing of the country. They are now testing 15,000 to 20,000 a day, and the robots are expected to bring the number to 80,000.
Among European countries, the nation has the highest number of COVID-19 positive cases, overtaking Italy. To date, Spain has almost 200,000 cases and over 20,000 fatalities.
The said virus is highly contagious, so swift mass testing is necessary to identify positive cases and minimize its spread. However, we cannot ignore the fact that such action also exposes testers to the infection, thus threatening their lives.
In Spain, approximately 13% of the country’s total positive cases are medical workers, straining health services. The Mediterranean nation recognizes the need to protect the frontliners — the reason for the government’s plan to utilize robots to reduce the risk of exposure to the virus.
Additionally, the robot manipulators will expedite the testing process, as they are expected to increase the number of tests being done a day to a fourfold.
In a press conference, Raquel Yotti shared that the design plan for test automation through the use of robots has been made. The head of the Health Institute Carlos III in Madrid also stated that the country has arranged the purchase of four robots to execute 80,000 tests a day.
Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez alerted the public that ‘the worst is yet to come’ — with ‘the strongest, most damaging wave’ yet to come and test the country’s spirit and material and moral competence.
Robots Against Coronavirus
Despite the plan as shared by the health official, the government is still silent on the details on how the robots will operate. Once deployed, these robots will join the rising number of intelligent machines that are utilized against the infection.
In Northern Ireland, health leaders are creating a testing system employing robots. In Washington, USA, a robot manipulator with a stethoscope is employed to take the vital signs of a patient diagnosed with the disease.
Meanwhile, Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the pandemic outbreak, opened a hospital manned by robots. The machines check temperatures, transport meals, and decontaminate the building.
Utilizing robots to fill in different roles normally done by humans raises concerns, such as the displacement of human workers. However, as we are living in difficult times now due to this global health crisis, using robots for coronavirus testing and other health-related jobs is not a bad idea after all.
In response to the growing coronavirus cases, hotels are used as makeshift health facilities in Madrid, the country’s epicenter of the outbreak.
The COVID-19 pandemic has hit not only the health sector but also the financial. Other measures employed by the authorities to reduce the impact of the crisis include an aid package for certain industries and pledging 100 billion euros of loans for banks.