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BEIJING: A Chinese city deployed robots to take Covid-19 throat swabs on Wednesday, as the country ramps up mass testing to stamp out local coronavirus outbreaks.

In the northern city of Shenyang, robotic arms, built to collect samples quickly while lowering the risk of cross-infection between people, were used as part of a campaign to suppress a rise in cases in the surrounding province.

Seemingly unperturbed by the futuristic scene before them, people waiting in line placed their government identification cards in a scanner, before a recorded message in a polite female voice instructed them open up their mouths. A robotic arm, sheathed in a layer of protective plastic, then extended a swab stick through a hole in a screen and towards their tonsils. A human colleague in a hazmat suit controlled its movements from a safe distance away, guided by a camera on the robot.—AFP