Coronavirus: Robot doctor helps keep Saudi Arabia medical staff safe

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A Saudi Arabian robot doctor named “Dr. B2” had its first official day at work in Riyadh's King Salman hospital on Friday, the latest robot to join the fight against the coronavirus pandemic that has put hundreds of thousands of medical staff at risk of infection.

Dr. B2 visits COVID-19 patients in their quarantine and diagnoses their vital signs remotely via cameras that report back to the doctors.

The new addition to the hospital’s medical staff allows the hospital to limit the amount of direct contact doctors and nurses have with patients, thus reducing the risk of infection.

Saudi Arabia had a total of 33,731 cases, and the virus-related death toll stands at 219 as of Thursday.

Compared to the COVID-19 global death rate, Health Minister Dr. Tawfiq al-Rabiah said that Saudi Arabia’s is very low. “The death rate remains at less than 0.7 percent, that’s 10 times lower than the global death rate, which is 7 percent,” he said.

Healthcare coronavirus measures

The robot doctor is the last of several measures taken by the Kingdom to curb the spread of coronavirus in the healthcare sector. Previous measures included remote consultation and medical appointment apps.

Saudi Arabian doctors are increasingly using remote “telemedicine” services for routine check-ups in the Kingdom, where movement is restricted for residents. Medical providers are using digital applications, telephone, and video services to provide consultations to patients in their own homes.

The Central Appointment System app called “Mawid” is provided by Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Health to enable patients to book, cancel, or reschedule their medical appointments at primary health care centers, as well as managing their referral appointments. The app aims to control the traffic in hospitals or medical centers.

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