Ghana is using delivery drones from US-based start-up Zipline to test people more quickly outside major cities for coronavirus, the company said.
Ghana has 834 confirmed infections and nine people died from COVID-19, the disease the virus causes.
Zipline operated its first coronavirus test flight on April 1 and will now fly samples from more than a thousand rural health facilities to laboratories in Accra and Kumasi, Ghana’s second largest city.
“Using contactless drone delivery to transport COVID-19 test samples will allow government to respond to the pandemic and help save lives,” Zipline Chief Executive Keller Rinaudo said.
As of April 15, the Ghana Health Service had tested 57 000 coronavirus samples.
Zipline, which operates drone fleets in Ghana and Rwanda to deliver blood, vaccines and other essential medical equipment to rural areas, is working with the Ministry of Health on coronavirus sample flights.
The company said using drones would cut delivery time for test samples from hours, with trucks traversing rural roads to collect tests from multiple hospitals, to under an hour in some cases.
It expects to operate the service daily “for the duration of government’s COVID-19 response efforts.”