Healthcare technology has proven its worth in dealing with the pneumonia-like Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) which broke out in December in China.
The virus originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan with cases identified on 31 December 2019. A week later, on January 7, Chinese healthcare authorities confirmed that they had identified a new virus that was part of the coronavirus family - a family that includes the common cold, SARS and MERS. The Chinese authorities named it 2019-nCoV. This was followed by a WHO notification, alerting the public about the virus on January 9.
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But a health-monitoring platform based in Canada beat both of them to it. The BlueDot algorithm predicts the spread of diseases through searching news reports and airline ticketing data. It notified its customers about the outbreak on December 31.
The automated infectious disease surveillance company uses an AI-driven algorithm that examines international news reports in 65 languages, official announcements and animal and plant disease networks to give clients advance notice of danger areas. This data put it ahead of official channels on the Wuhan City outbreak.
With infected travellers responsible for spreading 2019-nCoV outside China, the virus spread to Japan, South Korea, the U.S., Taiwan, Australia and France with updates on new cases now appearing daily.
In response to the public health emergency, the Johns Hopkins Whiting School of Engineering has devised an online dashboard for tracking and visualising of daily reported cases.
Data is collected from official healthcare sites such as WHO and Chinese websites that aggregate local real-time situation reports for accurate updates on confirmed or suspected cases, recoveries and deaths.
The dashboard aims to provide transparent information about the situation as it unfolds.
The first person to be diagnosed with 2019-nCoV in the U.S. is being treated by a robot alongside clinicians. The patient, a man in his 30s is in isolation in the infectious disease division at the Providence Regional Medical Center in Everett, Washington.
The robot is equipped with a stethoscope to assist doctors with
vitals and communication via a screen. The deployment of the robot minimises staff contact with the
patient, allowing medics to observe him as they move the robot around the
Doctors are using a robot to communicate with the man from
outside the isolation area.
According to data from the Johns Hopkins data visualisation (January 28, 2020 11 pm EST), the number of cases has reached more than 6000 with the majority on the Chinese mainland. The total number of deaths is 132 while recovers number 110.
The World Health Organisation has stopped shot of declaring the virus spread as an international health emergency but it has upgraded its assessment from ‘moderate’ to ‘high’.
Image credit: Johns Hopkins Center for Systems Science and Engineering