Robot helps Tunisia medics avoid infection from coronavirus patients

Medics have deployed a robot in a Tunisia’s hospital caring for coronavirus victims to limit contact between staff and infected patients, in a first for the North African country.

The tall, single-limbed machine is mounted on wheels and is capable of taking pulses and checking temperatures and blood oxygen levels.

It enables nurses, doctors and patients’ relatives to make virtual bedside visits.

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“It allows a reduction in contact with the sick and therefore the risk of contaminating personnel,” said Nawel Besbes Chaouch, a doctor leading the pulmonary department at the Abderrahmane Memmi hospital in Ariana, near the capital Tunis.

A screen mounted at the top of the robot enables audiovisual communication with patients, who in turn can see and recognise the faces of those caring for them — an impossibility when medics otherwise have to use full protective gear.

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A website allows families to reserve a time slot for a virtual visit, where the robot is remote-controlled into the patient’s room to allow a video conversation.

The robot was designed and made in Tunisia, by Enova, a start-up based in Sousse.

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