Courtesy of Israel, the Democratic Republic of the Congo in Central Africa has its first fully operational drive-through coronavirus testing facility. The facility was set up by Israel’s Magen David Adom (MDA), and it is the latest example of Israel’s commitment to providing aid to the developing world. People who suspect they may have caught COVID-19 simply need to head to the drive-through facility, and don’t even need to get out of their cars in order to be swapped for the highly contagious virus.
The facility is directly inspired by and modelled off the drive-through coronavirus testing facilities now found all throughout Israel, in an effort to contain the rapidly spreading virus before more damage can be done.
Back in May the MDA launched a pilot program backed by Israel’s Health Ministry called “Check and travel,” which consisted of several drive-through coronavirus testing facilities in Tel Aviv’s Hayarkon Park. Initially designed for people undergoing quarantine, sick people were required to contact MDA to request a test, which would then be referred to a doctor for approval. Upon approval, patients would be issued appointment times and receive a QR code via text message. On arrival at the testing booth, the patient would present their QR code through a closed car window, then proceed to another booth to take the COVID-19 swab test. The whole process is sterile, efficient and designed to be accessible to the general public or anyone unwilling to enter a hospital for testing purposes.
Throughout the country, there now exist even more efficient roadside testing booths with separating glass and rubber gloves attached to each booth to ensure zero contact between medics and testers. The booths – which are manufactured by local healthcare companies in collaboration with military partners – are designed so that testing staff and doctors can operate in a sterile and sealed environment, no personal protective equipment (PPE) is required, and equipment can be quickly disinfected between tests. They take less than a week to produce, and at a relatively cheap cost, too. So much so that Israel is offering the designs internationally to help the global fight against COVID-19.
Since the virus’ outbreak, Israel has taken far-reaching measures to contain the virus, making it one of the world leaders in its response to COVID-19. Early on, the Israeli Government enacted lockdown measures, authorised stringent workplace restrictions, and introduced technological solutions to stave off the impact and spread of the virus.
Israel’s Maccabi Healthcare Services – one of the nation’s largest healthcare maintenance organisations – is using artificial intelligence (AI) to help identify which of its customers are most at risk of developing severe COVID-19 related complications. The software draws on a wide range of medical data, including age, BMI, health conditions, and previous history of hospital admissions, with AI able to help the system sift through an enormous number of personal health records in milliseconds. Already, using the AI technology the company has flagged 400,000 people who have since been put on a fast track for testing.
AI technology is also helping The Israeli Ministry of Health undertake daily monitoring of coronavirus-related symptoms of the population, using a Diagnostic Robotics’ digital risk assessment for COVID-19. By analysing individual patient’s clinical symptoms via an automatic, robotic platform, it reduces the need for healthcare workers to visit or interact with potentially infectious patients, and helps medical services identify which regions need intensive care.
Israel is also encouraging the use of QR codes to track the movement of its people during COVID-19. The government has issued guidance to organisations countrywide during the COVID-19 crisis, inviting them to manage peoples’ access to workplaces by using QR codes that track the movements of those people entering the premises. Using a simple QR-based app, the data captured on the platform is converted into usable information to help organisation’s determine whether or not to give access to visitors. Essentially, the app collects data on visitors’ health and their recent interactions and helps organisations make a decision on how to deal with them and whether to allow access, or to practise caution and deny them access. It does so in a contactless way, without personnel needing to engage in a physical interaction with visitors.
Israel isn’t the only country embracing how a QR Code generator is used. In China, the government is inviting citizens to download a QR-based app that helps them to check whether they have come into contact with the virus. Users are able to download the app by scanning a QR code from several platforms including WeChat, QQ and Alipay, before registering their personal details. If they come into “close contact” with someone infected by COVID-19, the government contacts them and invites them to take a coronavirus test.
Australia, South Korea and Singapore have launched similar contact tracing apps, which have been met with varying degrees of success so far.