COVID-19 screening online platform to be launched soon in Jamaica

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COVID-19 screening online platform to be launched soon in Jamaica
Wulmer Hernandez self-administers a nasal swab as part of a screening for coronavirus at a portable testing site in Seattle last Wednesday. With the artificial intelligence coronavirus screening online platform, which MDLink will launch in collaboration with the IDB Lab, Jamaicans who believe they have COVID-19 symptoms will be able to log on to a platform and speak with a chatbot, which will advise them of what they should do next. (Photo: AP)
Wulmer Hernandez self-administers a nasal swab as part of a screening for coronavirus at a portable testing site in Seattle last Wednesday. With the artificial intelligence coronavirus screening online platform, which MDLink will launch in collaboration with the IDB Lab, Jamaicans who believe they have COVID-19 symptoms will be able to log on to a platform and speak with a chatbot, which will advise them of what they should do next. (Photo: AP)

(JAMAICA OBSERVER) — MDLink, which offers online medical services via video, voice, or text messages, will be rolling out an artificial intelligence novel coronavirus screening online platform in collaboration with the IDB Lab, for members of the public.

Dr Che’ Bowen, chief executive officer of MD Link, made the disclosure about the new platform as he addressed a JN Circle Catch-Up session.

The JN Circle Catch-Up is a video series of conversations about how Jamaicans can come together to overcome various challenges associated with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“It will be free to the public and will assist you, if you think you are having coronavirus symptoms and you are not sure. Simply log on to the MDLink platform and speak with a chatbot, an artificial intelligence bot, which will advise you, free of charge, what you should do next,” said Bowen.

He added that MDLink has been working closely with the IDB Lab to ensure optimisation of this platform update and launch.

According to Bowen, the information and recommendations on the platform are based on guidelines from the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). He said these guidelines and screening tools have been tested and are being used in First World countries.

He pointed out that this online platform should assist in addressing and minimising stigmatisation and COVID-19 anxiety, which has become prominent since the first case of the virus was recorded in Jamaica, in March.

“I want to stress that it is not a death sentence if you get the coronavirus. It is very similar to most other flu symptoms. In fact, the mortality rate is very low. What is known about the coronavirus is that it is contagious, it spreads easily; and even if you get it, you can recover,” added Bowen.

But he cautioned individuals in the vulnerable or high-risk groups such as, pregnant women, those who are hypertensive, diabetic, have heart conditions, or cancer, to ensure that they have stocked up on their medication.

“Ensure that everything is controlled. Your blood pressure and your diabetes should be controlled. Additionally, ensure that you stay at home and avoid exposure,” he advised.

Bowen also noted that from a pregnancy standpoint, the current data and guidelines from the CDC shows that pregnant women are not at increased risk if they contract the coronavirus.

“They are however still on the same level as others in contracting the disease. Therefore, as a pregnant woman, you should ensure that you stay at home; keep your environment clean, wear your mask, wash your hands often, and practise social distancing,” said Bowen.

At the same time, he pointed out that some chronic illnesses, such as asthma, may mirror the symptoms of coronavirus; therefore, people should look out for symptoms, such as: high fever, shortness of breath and chest pain, which are indicators that the virus is present.

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