Arrivals at Hangzhou airport are scanned

Robots wait on quarantined guests held in Hangzhou hotel due to coronavirus

Image credit: REUTERS/Yiming Woo

Amid the coronavirus outbreak, robots are being deployed in an afflicted Chinese city to tend to people under quarantine.

The ongoing coronavirus outbreak was first identified in Wuhan, Hubei province, after several people developed treatment-resistant pneumonia with no obvious cause. The new coronavirus has killed at least 132 people in China, with more than 6,000 confirmed cases in mainland China and 91 confirmed cases outside China.

Several governments are flying their citizens back from Wuhan as the outbreak escalates, while measures are being taken within China to minimise the spread of the virus, including strict quarantines.

At a hotel in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, travellers being kept in isolation are having their meals delivered by a robot. This allows for minimal human contact during their quarantine, reducing the risk of transmission. According to Reuters, the passengers are being held following a flight from Singapore to Hangzhou after two of the 335 passengers experienced fever.

In a video shared by state-run press agency Xinhua on Twitter, the robot – which has a cabinet built into it for carrying food – trundles through a hotel hallway, saying: “What’s up, everybody? Cute Little Peanut is serving meals to you now. Get pleasure from your meal. If you happen to want the rest, please message the employees on WeChat.”

Several people are seen emerging to take a tray of food before quickly returning to their rooms.

According to the video, more than 200 people are quarantined in the hotel. Delivery robots have been deployed on all 16 floors of the hotel to look after its occupants.

In the US, where there are five confirmed cases of coronavirus, at least one robot is being deployed to look after people affected by the outbreak. In order to minimise the risk of the virus spreading, the staff of Washington State’s Providence Regional Medical Centre are using a robot to measure their patient’s vitals – including with its stethoscope attachment – and to assist with video conferencing.

According to a CNN report, the hospital had previously revamped its robotic quarantine system in response to the Ebola outbreak.

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