COVID-19: Italian doctors seek help from stylish new robots


VARESE, Italy: The brilliant new robots gently check the pulses of highly infectious patients on respiratory assistance in the Italian epicenter of COVID-19.

Doctors and nurses love them because they also help save their own lives.

Italians have seen the world around them become unrecognizable because of the various lockdowns and social distancing measures used to fight the new epidemic of coronavirus.

But few things seem to have hurt them as much as seeing tens of doctors and nurses die trying to save the tens of thousands of patients who suddenly found themselves in hospitals in northern Italy, struck by a pandemic.

One of the six robots from the Circolo di Varese hospital in northern Italy checks a patient at

One of six robots at Circolo di Varese hospital in northern Italy examines a patient in the intensive care unit, helping medical staff reduce the risk of direct contact AFP / Miguel MEDINA

The country’s medical association said on Friday that at least 70 doctors have died of various causes since Italy recorded the first official death of COVID-19 on February 21.

The fear is that an overwhelming majority of the 70 people would still be alive today if they had been better protected against coronavirus.

This explains why the doctors are nurses in a hospital near the mountainous border of Italy with Switzerland who laugh behind their masks while posing for photos with their new robot friends.

The Varese hospital received six of the elegant and slightly human wheeled machines.

Some are white and have screens and various sensors instead of a human head.

Others are simpler and look a bit like a black broomstick on wheels.

Doctors say robots make younger kids smile.

Medical staff in Varese, northern Italy, with Ivo the robot that helps them care for the seriously ill

Medical staff in Varese, northern Italy, with Ivo the robot that helps them treat seriously ill coronavirus patients and reduce the risk of AFP / Miguel MEDINA infection

But their real goal is to help prevent doctors from catching and spreading the disease.

“Robots are tireless assistants who cannot be infected, who cannot get sick,” said Francesco Dentali, director of the intensive care unit at Circolo Hospital.

“Doctors and nurses have been hit hard by this virus. The fact that robots cannot be infected is a great achievement. “

Machine readings allow doctors to stay out of intensive care units and monitor patients’ vital signs on computer screens in separate rooms.

The death toll in Italy, the worst in the world, has reached 14,681 and is expected to reach 15,000 this weekend.

Doctors doubt official figures and believe the actual death toll could be twice as high in the Lombardy to Varese region.

Italy is expected to remain under general lockdown at least until the end of the month.


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