CDC launches coronavirus bot to help take strain off healthcare system

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced a new bot over the weekend that it says can analyze COVID-19 symptoms and recommend a course of action in an attempt to aid an overwhelmed healthcare system.

The bot, known as Clara, utilizes Microsoft's Azure Healthcare Bot framework, which the government agency hopes will help allay the fears of people who believe they may have the virus.

"Microsoft’s Healthcare Bot service is one solution that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to help the CDC and other frontline organizations respond to these inquiries, freeing up doctors, nurses, administrators and other healthcare professionals to provide critical care to those who need it," Microsoft wrote in a statement in conjunction with the CDC announcement.

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The bot attempts to provide guidance for who should be tested, though the CDC notes that "decisions about testing are at the discretion of state and local health departments and/or individual clinicians."

The novel coronavirus, which has been declared a pandemic amid more than 353,000 confirmed cases around the world, has put a strain on healthcare systems.

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People around the world are concerned about having cold or flu-like symptoms that are associated with the virus, something Microsoft described as a "bottleneck that threatens to overwhelm health systems coping with the crisis."

As of Monday afternoon, there have been more than 353,000 reported cases of COVID-19, including at least 35,000 in the U.S.

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