Many countries around the world have gone into lockdown following the novel coronavirus outbreak that has infected so far - and still counting -186,975 people globally. This means billions of people in various countries are advised to avoid the outside world and stay home until the virus is controlled.
In countries like the UAE, for example, authorities have advised people to avoid parties and weddings to limit the spread of the virus. The city of Dubai has suspended theme parks, cinemas, night clubs, and concerts as well.
To make matters easier for people in the country, the UAE has enlisted a "virtual doctor" to help diagnose potential cases of the novel coronavirus.
Dubbed the COVID-19 Virtual Doctor, the project was launched by the country's Ministry of Health and Prevention.
How does it work?
"Salam Alaikum, I'm here to guide you through the Coronavirus Assessment Tool. If you're experiencing a life- or limb-threatening emergency, call ," the online bot writes as soon as you open the webpage.
"I'm not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always consult a medical professional for serious symptoms or emergencies," it adds.
The bot initially asks users a series of five multiple-choice questions. These include inquiries on the person's emirate of residence, their travel history, symptoms, and contact points.
One of the questions requires users to state whether they have recently traveled/transited in locations such as China, Hong Kong, Italy, Iran, Republic of Korea, Spain, France, Germany, United States of America, Switzerland, Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Japan, Belgium, Austria, Kuwait, or Bahrain in the last 14 days.
It also asks whether the individual has had contact with someone who had visited one of the aforementioned countries and is currently sick.
A series of follow-up questions is also brought forth by the bot, asking users whether they are experiencing fever, cough, and shortness of breath.
Depending on the user's answers, the bot will either ask the user to enter their mobile phone number so that they'd reach out and/or get the person medical help, or it will let the patient know that they are at low-risk of COVID-19 but that the bot is available to answer any additional inquiries.
The bot is also open for a chat. If a person is feeling unwell, they can message the bot and it will reply with a series of questions to better understand the individual's situation and suggest a possible diagnosis and recommendations.
An example of the bot's reply is displayed in the image below.
The UAE has been implementing a few strict measures to restrict the spread of the novel coronavirus within its borders. Authorities in the country have installed thermal cameras at the entrances of malls and supermarkets in several emirates across the nation. The purpose of those cameras is to identify individuals with a high fever and prevent them from entering the premises. Any detection of high temperature will result in the isolation of the suspected patient in a specialized room.
In addition to that, the country has been really trying to minimize commutes to clinics for consultations regarding the coronavirus. The Dubai Health Authority has unrolled an application that allows citizens to communicate for free with healthcare professionals. Commuting to work has also been reduced as many companies in the Gulf nation switch to remote work in times of COVID-19.
Schools have closed as well but that hasn't affected the UAE as much as other Arab countries. This is because many institutions in the country have already been implementing e-learning systems prior to the pandemic.
The UAE is one of the only regional nations that has already been moving towards building a digital infrastructure that can facilitate e-classrooms. The country continuously launches initiatives aimed at bolstering this kind of distance learning process. These include "Madrasa," an e-learning platform offered in Arabic.