Japan debuts robots at hotels for coronavirus patients

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Robot staff debuted at a Tokyo hotel used for mildly sick coronavirus patients under a new plan to free up beds at hospitals overburdened with more severe cases, the Associated Press (AP) reported.

Pepper, a talking robot, greets new guests at the lobby, while Whiz, a cleaning robot, operates in areas where patients pick up meals and other daily necessities to reduce infection risks for human staff.

Pepper, wearing a white surgical mask, greeted Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike as she walked into the hotel during Friday’s demonstration. Pepper also reminds patients to check their temperature and rest well.

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Guests can also access health management applications on computers and tablets to record their temperatures and symptoms.

The robots, made by SoftBank Robotics, will also be deployed at other hotels rented by Tokyo’s metropolitan government for patients with no or mild symptoms. So far, Tokyo has secured five hotels and aims to increase the number of rooms from the current 1,500 to 2,800.

The hotels are also staffed by doctors and nurses, but officials hope the robots can cheer up an otherwise lonely time for guests who are isolated in single rooms for their weeks-long stay. Japan has 14,281 confirmed cases, with 432 deaths, according to the health ministry.

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