World Creativity and Innovation Day: UAE fighting coronavirus with advanced, smart technology


ABU DHABI, 20th April, 2020 (WAM) -- The UAE will tomorrow join the international community in celebrating World Creativity and Innovation Day, WCID, a global United Nations, UN, day celebrated on 21st April, to raise awareness over the importance of creativity and innovation in solving problems for advancing the UN Sustainable Development Goals and in all aspects of human development.

On WCID, the UN invites the world to embrace the idea that innovation is essential for harnessing the economic potential of nations.

The WCD comes this year as the world is battling the COVID-19 pandemic, and the United Nations calls on innovators to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

The UAE has made better use of advanced and smart technologies, including Artificial Intelligence, AI, drones and robots, to support its efforts to contain the virus.

World's largest COVID-19 lab outside of China

On 31st March, Group 42, G42, the leading technology company based in Abu Dhabi, and global genomics leader, BGI, launched a new massive-throughput laboratory to address the need for population-scale detection and diagnosis of COVID-19 in the UAE. The lab is capable of conducting tens of thousands of real-time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction tests per day and is the first in the world of this scale to be operating outside of China. The lab showcases the joint commitment of G42 and BGI to the leadership and people of the UAE, working with the nation to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

The laboratory was rapidly built and operationalised by G42 and BGI in only 14 days, providing an immediate solution to the need to scale up testing for COVID-19 in the UAE. Proactively learning from China's experience in handling the COVID-19 crisis, the lab ensures that the UAE continues to lead the world as the most tested country per capita (according to the World Health Organisation).

This new processing capacity will enable a rapid response to the current outbreak by accelerating the diagnosis, identification of suspected cases, the release of recovered patients, and the screening of close contacts and high-risk groups.

Genome sequencing

Dubai’s COVID-19 Command and Control Centre, CCC, announced the UAE’s first full genome sequencing of the virus. The successful sequencing of the virus from a patient in Dubai was performed by researchers at the Mohammed Bin Rashid University of Medicine and Health Sciences, MBRU.

By studying the genetic sequence of the virus and the minor changes over time from many patients, scientists can get a better understanding of how the virus spreads, which can also inform about measures to control the outbreak.

Dr. Ahmad Abou Tayoun, Associate Professor of Genetics at MBRU and Director of the Genomics Centre at Al Jalila Children’s Genomic Centre, said, "This is a specific example of how this information can help trace the origin of infection in this specific patient from the UAE and can tell us a lot about viral transmission in the country."

Drive-through COVID-19 screening centres

Several mobile drive-through COVID-19 test centres for all community members were opened across the nation, as the UAE is stepping up measures to contain the outbreak of the virus.

Each facility is equipped with world-class medical professionals and equipment and allows for an average capacity to conduct the five-minute test for 600 persons daily.

As part of preventive and precautionary measures, the Ministry of Interior launched smart helmets capable of monitoring those who maybe infected with the coronavirus.

The new helmets will help authorities detect new cases and ensure that those who are infected are given medical treatment and put in isolation. The "super-intelligent helmets" are capable of monitoring the temperature of people within five metres.

Police teams and patrols will use the helmet to diagnose people from a safe distance, enabling them to handle crowds, obtain vital readings, and analyse data. The technology can also create and read QR codes, as they are equipped with thermal cameras and sensors that enable them to recognise faces and store and recognise vehicle licence plate numbers. The helmets are also capable of night vision.

Higher education institutions have also come up with innovative solutions that support the country's virus containment efforts. Researchers at Khalifa University have developed a radar that can monitor vital signs such as body temperature, heart rate, breath rate and blood pressure.

The researchers believe the technology could be used in hospitals and from homes, reducing the need for house visits by doctors and for patients to be physically hooked up to machines.

Scientists hope that in time, the radars could also be deployed at airports to monitor the health of passengers and prevent the spread of future pandemics.

A prototype device for individual monitoring has already been built and researchers are now working on refining its design.

Working in response to the global need for increased ventilator manufacturing capacity due to COVID-19, a multi-disciplinary team at Khalifa University has developed an affordable, simple, and easy-to-manufacture ventilator prototype.

Researchers at Khalifa University’s Healthcare Engineering Innovation Centre have stepped up to serve in the project to develop emergency ventilators. The researchers have developed a working prototype and are now engineering the production plant to be able to produce the ventilators at scale to meet rising local and global demands. A unit has been set up to produce 250 ventilators.

The UAE University's, UAEU, Science and Innovation Park has launched the "CoMakers VS COVID-19" movement as part of its efforts to fight the pandemic. The UAEU has used its 3D printers and making skills to design a Protective Face Mask and called on makers to the virus containment battle.

Sterilisation robots

The National Disinfection Programme provides a fertile ground for innovation and application of advanced technologies to increase the geographic scope of the nation-wide cleaning campaign.

The General Administration of Civil Defence in Abu Dhabi has deployed robot TAF35 on the streets to support the sterilisation operations.

The robot can be controlled from a distance of 300 metres and is capable of pumping large quantities of sanitising and disinfecting materials.

In Dubai, the municipality conducted the massive National Disinfection Programme with advanced technology in sterilisation operations, such as drones to enhance the speed and smoothness of these operations effectively and progressively.

The Dubai Corporation for Ambulance Services launched its first "Self Sanitisation Walk" to protect paramedics and their colleagues and families from the risk of various kinds of infections. The new device helps paramedics safeguard themselves from any infection that their clothes may catch while working with patients confirmed and suspected of having COVID-19. By efficiently sterilising their clothes and shoes, the "Self Sanitisation Walk" allows paramedics and other staff to gain an additional level of protection.

 

WAM/Tariq alfaham