Published: 2020-05-01 16:40:41 BdST
Japan is now using hotels to house patients who have tested positive for the coronavirus but whose symptoms are too light to need hospitalisation, and several in the capital of Tokyo just opened on Friday feature robots to help lighten the burden on nurses.
In one, a big-eyed robot named "Pepper" - appropriately wearing a protective mask - stood waiting to welcome visitors.
"Please, wear a mask inside," it said in a perky voice. "I hope you recover as quickly as possible."
Other messages include "I pray the spread of the disease is contained as soon as possible" and "Let's join our hearts and get through this together."
Pepper is not the only robot at work in the hotel in the Ryogoku area of Tokyo. A cleaning robot with the latest in Artifial Intelligence has been deployed to clean several parts of the hotel, including riskier "red zone" areas where staff access is limited.
A Pepper humanoid robot, manufactured by SoftBank Group Corp. and cleaning robot Whiz are seen during a press preview at a hotel of APA Group that has been designated to accommodate asymptomatic people and those with light symptoms of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) to free up hospital beds and alleviate work by nurses and staff members, in Tokyo, Japan May 1, 2020. REUTERS
The Ryogoku hotel, where patients will start checking in later on Friday, can accommodate about 300 people. Two nurses will be on hand around the clock, while a doctor will also be present during the day.
The number of coronavirus cases in Japan is now over 14,000 with 448 deaths as of Thursday, according to a Reuters tally.