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January 22, 2021: Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe (centre) when he received 3 smart robots from UNDP with funding from the Japanese government. He is accompanied by the agency's officials.

Capital Health

Kenya gets robots that can test temperature of 200 people in 60 seconds

Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe said the robots will be deployed in Mbagathi hospital and Kenyatta National Hospital.

NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 22 – Kenya has received three smart robots procured by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) with funding from Japan in response to Kenya’s efforts and management of COVID-19.

The robots have the ability to check temperatures of 200 people in 60 seconds.

Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe said the robots will be deployed in Mbagathi hospital and Kenyatta National Hospital.

They will also be used to broadcast COVID-19 preventive measures, enforcing face masks requirement, disinfecting places among other functions, in what CS Kagwe says will protect frontline workers from getting infected.

“My goal is to catapult Kenya into the medical space, where we would join the league of those who benefit from surgical procedures from remote distances and that will be in response to our own environment…we will use this technology to address needs that really exist,” CS Kagwe said.

UNDP Resident Representative for Kenya Walid Badawi said the initiative is part of broader support that aims to strengthen Kenya’s COVID-19 response at national and county levels, through an inclusive and multisectoral approach that includes addressing its Socio-Economic Impact.

The integration of the smart anti-epidemic robots will create an enhanced and more resilient innovative technological infrastructure system within the healthcare system, to manage the COVID-19 crisis and any foreseeable pandemics in Kenya.

“Looking ahead, beyond the pandemic, we envision these smart anti-pandemic robots as an opportunity to further learning and enhance skills in this field of robotics. We are aware, that robotics including hardware and software programming are key components of the fourth industrial revolution,” Badawi said.

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The robots were acquired at the cost of Sh36 million.

Similar initiatives have been rolled out in Rwanda in the war against the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) has projected that following the full-scale school reopening, there will be about 13.7 thousand new COVID-19 cases and nearly 116 new deaths by June.

The agency projects that the rate of COVID-19 cases and death incidences will peak in mid-March 2021.

While noting that there will be more clarity on the impact of schools opening in terms of numbers by mid-February, KEMRI said the most plausible effect of schools reopening will be that the transmission rate in Kenya which will increase the time-varying reproductive number by 25 percent.

The country’s positivity rate stood at 3.6 percent as of Jan 21.

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