Robots join the fight against coronavirus in Italy's hospitals

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LONDON (CBS) More than 100,000 people in Italy have been infected with the coronavirus. Now, doctors there have rolled out a new tool to help keep health care workers safe.

High-tech reinforcements have joined northern Italy's fight against the coronavirus.

The six robots in the hospital in Varese are being used in the most infectious wards, where doctors need to limit their time.

The hospital's director says it allows them to use less protective clothing, like masks and overalls, which are already in scare supply. Fewer changes also cut the risk of contamination, which can help keep doctors safe.

The risk of infection is so high, more than 10,000 Italian health care workers have contracted COVID-19 in overwhelmed hospitals. At least 66 doctors have died.

The robots allow medical staffers to monitor patients through a camera and even speak to them. Patients can send messages back to doctors. The robots also track machines with vitals signs.

Doctors say those fighting the disease like the face-to-face technology.

"The patient is happy because he or she can speak with the doctor," said Francesco Dentali of Varese Circolo Hospital.

It helps them feel less isolated while doctors race to help them recover.