India’s coronavirus cases are rapidly increasing and with no vaccine in our immediate future, increasing our testing capacity is the best we can do.
Maharashtra has been the most affected state in India, so naturally, screening more and more people for the coronavirus is of the utmost importance.
Now, Mumbai and Pune have ‘smart helmets’ to help screen people and thereby prevent the coronavirus from getting even more out of control.
Screening over 6,000 people in two-and-a-half hours
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) and an NGO, Bharatiya Jain Sanghatana (BJS) have teamed up to deploy smart helmets in Mumbai and Pune.
These helmets have been launched as part of ‘Mission Zero’ which intends to combat the outbreak of COVID-19 by rapidly testing people to bring the total COVID-19 cases to zero.
The high tech smart helmets, which are controlled using a smartwatch, are equipped with thermal cameras that can screen 13 people at a time and around 200 people in a minute.
“Traditional screening methods take a lot of time. You go to a slum with 20,000 people and it takes you three hours to screen 300 people, but when you use these helmets, all you have to do is ask people to come out of their homes, face them and you can screen 6,000 people in two-and-a-half hours,” said Dr Neelu Jain, a medical volunteer with BJS.
Each helmet costs 6 lakhs
The smart helmets have been imported from South Korea and have been donated to Mumbai and Pune authorities. There are only 2 helmets in use in each city currently, as the demand for the helmets is high right now.
These smart helmets are also in use in Italy, Dubai and China.
With a population of more than 18 million people, Mumbai has many high-density areas, such as slums, that are turning into coronavirus hotspots. Testing more would help isolate affected patients and limit contagion.
With smart helmets, screening can be done from a distance of 10 feet. If a person is found to have a high body temperature, they are taken to one of the camps which are set up around every place where testing is being carried out. Further tests are carried out and if found positive, the person is sent to the hospital.
Using smart helmets, mass screenings can be done. In just two weeks, authorities were able to 17,000 people.
India’s battle against the coronavirus will not be over until we find a vaccine, and until then we must enhance our testing capacities. These smart helmets will surely help speed up screening, but is it up to us, citizens, to maintain social distancing norms and help limit the spread.
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