Tommy is one of six new robots helping flesh-and-blood doctors and nurses care for coronavirus patients at the Circolo Hospital in Varese, a city in the northern Lombardy region that is the epicenter of the outbreak in Italy.

“It’s like having another nurse without problems related to infection,” said Doctor Francesco Dentali, director of intensive care at the hospital. The child-size robots with large blinking eyes are wheeled into rooms and left by a patient’s bedside so doctors can look after others who are in more serious conditions.
They monitor parameters from equipment in the room, relaying them to hospital staff. The robots have touch-screen faces that allow patients to send messages to doctors.

Most importantly, Tommy and his high-tech teammates allow the hospital to limit the number of direct contact with patients, thus reducing the risk of infection.

More than 4,000 Italian health workers have contracted the virus treating victims in Italy and 66 doctors have died.
The death toll in Italy, the world’s hardest-hit country in terms of deaths, topped 13,000 on Wednesday, more than a third of all global fatalities.

It takes a while for patients to realize that, given the enormity of the task of combating coronavirus and the toll it is taking on overworked medical staff, robots may be just what the doctor ordered.

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