‘Corona cake’ spreading fast in Gaza

The UN has warned that a COVID-19 outbreak in Gaza could be disastrous, given the high poverty rates and weak health system in the coastal strip under Israeli blockade since 2007. (AFP)
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Updated 03 April 2020

‘Corona cake’ spreading fast in Gaza

  • The head of the Al-Nada bakery in Khan Yunis in southern Gaza has created a ‘corona cake’ depicting a woman wearing a blue face mask
  • He first posted the design on social media and now dozens of people are ordering them each day

KHAN YUNIS, Palestine: As he watched the world trying to raise awareness about the new coronavirus and convince people to stay at home, Palestinian baker Eyad Abu Rezqa cooked up an idea.
The head of the Al-Nada bakery in Khan Yunis in southern Gaza has created a ‘corona cake’ depicting a woman wearing a blue face mask, aiming to remind people of the importance of social distancing.
He first posted the design on social media and now dozens of people are ordering them each day in the impoverished Palestinian enclave, he said.
“Straight away it got great interest, customers starting saying ‘I want that cake’,” Abu Rezqa told AFP.
“Every day our clients’ demand for the mask cake is increasing.”
He stressed he was not belittling the risk of the deadly disease which has killed more than 50,000 people but trying to keep spirits up while promoting awareness.
So far Gaza has 12 confirmed cases of COVID-19, all of whom are in isolation, according to health authorities in the Hamas-run strip.
Like much of the world, authorities have put in place strict social distancing rules to try to prevent contagion but have not yet closed all non-essential businesses.
The staff making the cakes are wearing protective clothing, Abu Rezqa pointed out.


South Korean cafe hires robot barista to help with social distancing

Updated 25 May 2020

South Korean cafe hires robot barista to help with social distancing

  • It is believed the robots could help with social distancing as the COVID-19 pandemic continues
  • The manufacturer and the scientific institute aim to supply at least 30 cafes with robots this year

DAEJEON, South Korea: The new robot barista at the cafe in Daejeon, South Korea, is courteous and swift as it seamlessly makes its way toward customers.
“Here is your Rooibos almonds tea latte, please enjoy. It’s even better if you stir it,” it says, as a customer reaches for her drink on a tray installed within the large, gleaming white capsule-shaped computer.
After managing to contain an outbreak of the new coronavirus which infected more than 11,000 people and killed 267, South Korea is slowly transitioning from intensive social distancing rules toward what the government calls “distancing in daily life.”
Robots could help people observe social distancing in public, said Lee Dong-bae, director of research at Vision Semicon, a smart factory solution provider which developed the barista robot together with a state-run science institute.
“Our system needs no input from people from order to delivery, and tables were sparsely arranged to ensure smooth movements of the robots, which fits will with the current ‘untact’ and distancing campaign,” he said.
The system, which uses a coffee-making robotic arm and a serving robot, can make 60 different types of coffee and serves the drinks to customers at their seats. It can also communicate and transmit data to other devices and contains self-driving technology to calculate the best routes around the cafe.
An order of six drinks, processed through a kiosk, took just seven minutes. The only human employee at the two-story cafe was a patissier who also has some cleaning duties and refills ingredients.
The manufacturer and the scientific institute aim to supply at least 30 cafes with robots this year.
“Robots are fun and it was easy because you don’t have to pick up your order,” said student Lee Chae-mi, 23. “But I’m also a bit of worried about the job market as many of my friends are doing part-time jobs at cafes and these robots would replace humans.”