How can 5G help combat pandemics like COVID-19?

So far, the Novel Coronavirus Disease has more than 800,000 cases globally and has claimed nearly 39,000 lives. The pandemic has a major impact on the global economy and the whole world is at a standstill right now. While many countries are having prevention measures in practice by imposing lockdowns, the number of tests being conducted is still inadequate in many countries.

Chinese tech giant Huawei has recently published a whitepaper titled ‘Combating COVID-19 with 5G – Opportunities to help improve public health system‘. The paper highlights features of 5G such as high bandwidth, low latency, a large number of connections per area, cloud-native features, and AI. The report states that these technologies can together enhance the effectiveness of pandemic prevention and treatment and drive the digital transformation of healthcare systems in response to major health emergencies. This new study highlights the role of 5G in epidemic control and how 5G thermal imaging can support contagion monitoring.

Image source: NYTimes

5G Thermal Imaging

As per the report, 5G thermal imaging at a terminal can accurately monitor a moving object’s temperature in real-time without any contact and issues abnormal image alerts, if any. Data collected by these terminals can be shared with central monitoring systems and synced with the cloud with zero-lag. This will enable not only public temperature monitoring and imaging, but also travel and contact history tracking whenever needed. The system will be ‘always-online’

These 5G thermal imaging systems are currently widely deployed across China since the outbreak. Especially when it comes to crowded public places like airports and transport hubs, these systems have significantly improved the efficiency of temperature monitoring and thermal imaging across the moving crowd to reduce the risk of exposure. This can help drive the digitization of the outbreak control.

Apart from this, 5G can also enable remote monitoring and diagnosis of the patient during transfer in a Smart Ambulance. Thanks to the gigabit-class speeds of 5G, these Smart Ambulances can transmit videos and medical data to the hospital staff flawlessly in real-time. The whitepaper also describes the 5G remote consultation and 5G smart medical robots. 5G remote consultation has already had clinical trials in select locations in China during the outbreak with patients being able to remotely connect to medical experts across the country. 5G smart medical robots can be used for quarantine patients. These robots in the 5G environment can take care of routine tasks like sanitary conditions, floor checkups, medicine delivery to improve safety in quarantine areas. The robots can free-up human resources from repetitive tasks, and they can then be deployed for complex tasks in critical care units.

The healthcare systems all over the world are presently under tremendous pressure to get this situation under control. Digital transformation of healthcare harnessing the power of 5G is the best-suited solution to efficiently combat epidemics like this in the future.

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