A vending machine that issues and stores COVID-19 tests has been installed in a hospital in Riga, Latvia.
The machine at the Pauls Stradins Clinical University Hospital is the first of 100 planned under a new nationwide roll-out, as Latvia looks to innovate in its battle to slow the spread of the pandemic.
People can purchase a swab test, before completing it and place the sample back into the machine. A technician collects the swab once a day and patients are informed of their results within 24 hours, said Didzis Gavars of the E. Gulbja Laboratory, which developed the machine.
"In my opinion, a saliva test is the simplest one as it does not cause any physical pain, unlike tests through the nose or mouth. Here, you need only saliva, you spit in the jar, close it and it's done, and then you receive a positive or negative answer," said Pauls Stradins doctor's assistant Dainis Laugalis.
The device reduces the risk of the infection as well as removing the need for medical workers to administer the test, said Gavars.
"People must self-isolate but, paradoxically, they have to come in contact with each other to get a [coronavirus] test. With the help of this device, which automatizes the process of test-taking, the gatherings will diminish substantially," he added.
The machines will not only be used for COVID-19 test storage in the future – they also have the ability to store others drugs or prescriptions.
"Life before and after COVID-19 will drastically change. Our device is adjustable to receiving any materials," Gavars said.
The government is currently paying for the tests at Riga's hospital, where the machine is reserved for staff, but other devices will charge $64 per test.