Microsoft helps CDC build a coronavirus 'self-checker'

The chat bot is designed to help you make decisions and seek medical care if needed.

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The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now has a " coronavirus self-checker" tool on its website that can assess people's symptoms and risk factors, and help them make decisions on seeking medical care. The tool was developed using Microsoft's Healthcare Bot service, the company said in a release Friday.

"Public health organizations, hospitals and others on the front lines of the COVID-19 response need to be able to respond to inquiries, provide the public with up to date outbreak information, track exposure, quickly triage new cases and guide next steps," Microsoft said. "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."

The chat bot isn't intended for the diagnosis or treatment of COVID-19, according to the CDC, but can help you make decisions about seeking appropriate medical care. The chat bot asks a series of questions about whether you're ill or taking care of someone who is, where you're located, your age as well as symptoms you may be experiencing. 

COVID-19, the disease caused by a newly identified coronavirus first detected in China in December, has rapidly spread across the globe. The World Health Organization on March 11 declared the outbreak a pandemic, saying it expects to see the number of cases and deaths climb higher. As of Friday, there were more than 14,000 cases of coronavirus in the US, with cases reported in all 50 states. 

On Monday, President Donald Trump encouraged Americans to avoid gatherings of more than 10 people and to practice social distancing.

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