Tokyo will use robots to attend to coronavirus patients housed in local hotels.
The Tokyo Metropolitan Government unveiled two robots on Friday at the Apa Hotel & Resort in the capital’s Sumida ward. The Apa Hotel is one of five hotels in Tokyo that the metropolitan government is renting to house hospital patients with no or mild symptoms of COVID-19.
Doctors and nurses attend the guests at the hotel, but the government hopes that the Softbank-developed robots will help to cheer up the otherwise isolated guests.
Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike inspected the robots, Pepper and Whiz, and watched a demonstration.
Pepper, who wears a surgical mask, is a humanoid robot that will interact with patients. Pepper will also regularly remind guests to check their temperature and get plenty of rest.
Whiz, a cylindrical cleaning robot, will help distribute meals to patients and help keep the lobby clean.
Tokyo started to house patients in hotels in mid-April in order to help ease the pressure on the healthcare system, according to the Asahi Shimbun. Medical staff test the patients every day and take their temperature.
“Some are constantly concerned about their partners being hospitalized, others are deep into reading and still others watch movies for a change,” a staff worker said. “Many young people are totally absorbed in hand-held games.”
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe indicated on Friday that he will extend the country’s state of emergency by roughly a month, the Japan Times reported. During that time, the metropolitan government plans to increase the number of available hotel rooms to 2,800 in the coming weeks.
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