Coronavirus: meet the UAE's 'virtual doctor' which assesses Covid-19 symptoms

The platform is part of the Ministry of Health and Prevention's as efforts to combat the spread of the pandemic

The UAE has enlisted a "virtual doctor" to assess potential cases of coronavirus and take the strain off medical services.

The Covid-19 Virtual Doctor is an assessment tool launched by the UAE Ministry of Health and Prevention as part of efforts to curb the spread of the pandemic.

The online bot asks users a total of five multiple choice questions, including the person's travel history, symptoms and if they have been in contact with someone who has been infected with the virus.

"Salam alaikum, I'm here to guide you through the Coronavirus Assessment Tool. If you are experiencing a life or limb-threatening emergency, call [998]. I'm not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always consult a medical professional for serious symptoms or emergencies," the virtual doctor website tells users.

The foremost question posed is if a person has travelled to any of the high-risk countries, with multiple choices including China, Hong Kong, Republic of Korea, Japan, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Switzerland, the US, Kuwait, Bahrain and Iran.

 

There are follow-up questions asking details of symptoms the user might be experiencing, such as a fever, cough, runny nose, sore throat or shortness of breath.

Depending on the information, the virtual doctor gives two different answers.

First: "We would like to talk with you as soon as possible. Please call 998".

Second: "Dear patient, you have low risk for Covid-19. If you need further information please call the following number: 800-FLU [358]".

The UAE has provided several online tools for residents seeking coronavirus-related advice.

The "Doctor for Every Citizen" initiative by the Dubai Health Authority (DHA) offers residents 24/7 consultations with doctors regarding Covid-19 concerns via video and voice calls.

To use the service, residents have to book an appointment on DHA’s hotline, 800 324, and download their mobile application.

Doctors with the DHA also answered coronavirus-related questions from the public during a live social media session in February.

The efforts were part of the "Sehatek", or your health, initiative which takes place each week on Instagram and Periscope.

This month, the Abu Dhabi Department of Health launched a website, www.doh.saal.ai, to keep residents informed about the virus pandemic. It includes interactive features, updates from official sources and answers to related queries.

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