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Meet the robot helping doctors treat coronavirus patients

There have been five confirmed cases of the quickly spreading coronavirus in the U.S. Doctors have figured out a way to communicate with one of the infected patients without exposing themselves to the virus by using a robot. 

The robot is being used for the patient in Washington state at the Providence Regional Medical Center, according to CNN. Since the coronavirus can transmit from person to person, doctors at the hospital treating the patient have taken extra caution in the form of using a robot. 

“Telehealth devices like the ‘robot’ assist caregivers in performing basic diagnostic functions and allow them to communicate easily with the patient,” Rebecca Bartles, the executive director of system infection prevention at Providence St. Joseph Health, told Digital Trends. “This helps reduce the number of up-close interactions, which in turn minimizes the risk of exposure to caregivers.”

The robot, known as Vici, was developed by InTouch Health and has a high definition screen and camera, which allows a doctor or a nurse to help a patient without having to come in contact with them. 

Vici is most commonly used for doctors located farther away to be able to chat with and examine their patients, but in this case, it’s for the health and safety of the hospital’s employees. 

“The nursing staff in the room move the robot around so we can see the patient in the screen, talk to him,” Dr. George Diaz, chief of the infectious disease division at Providence, told CNN. “They’re looking for ongoing presence of the virus.”

People are taking extra caution with the coronavirus outbreak since there’s still so much we don’t know about it. What we do know so far is that symptoms include fever, cough, and shortness of breath and that those symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as long as 14 days after initial exposure. 

The virus is believed to have originated in Wuhan, China, but there have been confirmed cases in the U.S., Australia, Canada, Japan, France, Germany, and more. On Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced it would expand screening for coronavirus to a total of 20 U.S. airports

There’s a helpful online tool that brings together reliable data from several organizations from around the world to display the number of confirmed and suspected cases of the coronavirus, as well as deaths. The dashboard is continuously updated as more information about the coronavirus unfolds. 

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