Alexa can now unofficially screen users for coronavirus

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Amazon adds COVID-19 resources to its Alexa-enabled smart devices. Image: Amazon via AFP Relaxnews

Following in the footsteps of Apple, which recently gave its voice assistant Siri the ability to offer CDC-based recommendations to users who think they could have contracted COVID-19, Amazon’s Alexa and Echo Show devices now have a hefty collection of features designed to keep users “informed, connected, and entertained” in the middle of a global pandemic.

Based on CDC guidelines, Alexa has gained the ability to assess a user’s coronavirus risk level based on their answers to questions about their symptoms and travel history. The voice assistant can then offer recommendations on what to do next.

In several countries, users can also ask Alexa to play a song for 20 seconds, the minimum amount of time the CDC recommends that people wash their hands.

To encourage users to stay informed with accurate information, Alexa can additionally answer “tens of thousands” of coronavirus-related questions. Both Fire TV and Echo Show devices can give customers access to a wide range of COVID-19 news coverage from media like CBS and NBC News.

Along with Alexa’s existing skills to keep people connected by controlling and being able to initiate tools like Skype and Drop-In, users can use the voice assistant to make donations to relief organizations and local businesses. Students can stay on top of their academics by connecting an Alexa-enable device with platforms like Blackboard and Coursera.

Finally, in terms of entertainment for those observing stay-at-home orders, Alexa can stream free audio stories in six languages, stream live concerts from Bandsintown and enjoy existing Alexa abilities like playing music, movies, and more.

All these additions are available now. JB

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For more information on COVID-19, call the DOH Hotline: (02) 86517800 local 1149/1150.

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