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Google aids in the fight against Ebola in Sierra Leone with Ebola-proof Android tablets

Health workers have their hands full in Sierra Leone, where the Ebola epidemic is still grave. Seeing as the crisis might not die down anytime soon, Google stepped in to help with an Ebola-proof tablet, reports the Telegraph.

The tablet is based on a Sony Xperia tablet, but it’s covered in an extra protective casing. The tablet allows health workers to record and share patient records over longer periods of time. According to Google, the tablet can be used with gloves, and it can survive being doused in chlorine, which is used as a disinfectant. It can even endure the high humidity and storms that often occur in West Africa.

Related: IBM puts its supercomputer skills to work in fight against Ebola

The idea for an Ebola-proof tablet originated from a Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) doctor, who resorted to shouting patient details from the protective zone. Within these protective zones, doctors must be fully covered in order to avoid being infected with Ebola, since even passing a piece of paper with patient details has the potential to transmit the disease.

“It was error prone, exhausting and it wasted five or 10 minutes of the hour medics can spend fully dressed inside the protective zone before they collapse from heat exhaustion,” said MSF technology adviser Ivan Gayton.

Gayton reached out to a member of Google’s Crisis Response Team, which eventually dispatched five engineers to work on the design of the Ebola-proof tablet. Currently, eight of these tablets are in use by MSF medics in Sierra Leone, and though the number of Ebola cases is diminishing, Gayton said the tablets could help map out symptoms, and the devices could be used for other disease outbreaks.