UK turns to emergency drone delivery as second COVID-19 wave hits

Faced with recurring cases of COVID-19, the UK government has turned to drone technology to ramp up the transport of test kits, personal protective equipment (PPE) and other pandemic related supplies

According to The Guardian, the UK’s National Health Service (NHS), initial flights for health drone logistics will be carried out in Essex, courier Covid-19 samples, blood tests and PPE between the hospitals of Basildon and Broomfield; and the Pathology First Laboratory in Basildon.

The UK is experiencing a terrible second wave of COVID-19, with over 870,000 confirmed cases. Health secretary Matt Hancock has refused to rule out a return to tougher lockdown measures.

“Covid-19 has highlighted challenges in NHS supply chain logistics,” The Guardian quotes Christopher Law, founder of Aspian, the drone start-up that sold the idea to the government as saying. “We are confident that by setting up a medical drone delivery service, we’ll be able to fly samples to labs more regularly, reliably and quickly, helping improve patient health outcomes.”

To be flown by an army pilot, the drone will be flying at a height of 90 metres above ground and was designed to withstand harsh weather conditions of.

It seems emergency health delivery by drone has come late to the party in the UK, but this trial marks the latest in a series of initiatives by the unmanned aviation industry to help fight against Covid-19 in the country. In May, The Guardian reported how vital medical supplies were being shipped four times a day to the Isle of Mull, in the Inner Hebrides, as part of a similar trial.

Authorities are hoping that the use of drones will reduce waiting times for couriers, free up NHS staff, reduce unnecessary physical contact and minimise the risk of secondary transmission of the virus.


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