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Rwanda’s COVID-19 response goes high-tech

Drones are becoming effective in Rwanda, following a lack of compliance by residents to follow directives to stay home, wash hands, respect physical distancing and wear masks. Rwanda is considered to be densely populated hence the drones will be used in difficult-to-reach neighbourhoods and high-risk zones to urge compliance of COVID-19 preventive measures.

Police procured drones with a capacity to broadcast sound and record high definition images. They confirmed that once the phase of curiosity passed, residents started adhering to the messages being delivered by the drones. Drones were designed to complement media messages, the work by community health workers and other community leaders by bringing educational messages directly to residents by air.

Currently, they are being used in the Rusizi and Rubavu Districts where new clusters were identified and put back under lockdown. Rwanda has been exploring the integration of drones in different sectors since 2018, from blood delivery and larvicide spraying, distribution of medicines for chronic patients during the lockdown, to topography in agriculture as well as taking pictures to promote tourism in the country.

The recorded footage allows local authorities to closely monitor areas for the need for any intervention or evacuation that would normally take longer to identify and organize. Data drawn from the images captured by the drones has allowed the authorities to deploy resources directly to areas identified to be in need of interventions.

According to World Health Organisation (WHO) in Rwanda: “This strategy supported much in compliance of COVID-19 prevention measures especially in remote and very densely areas where it would be difficult to halt the spread of the pandemic”.With the support of UNDP Rwanda and other donors, high-tech robots have also been introduced at treatment centres to administer temperature checks, monitor patient status, and keep medical records of COVID patients.

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