The integration of technology to help fight the coronavirus pandemic took another step with the introduction of a new tool in France. On Monday, French researchers debuted an Artificial Intelligence-powered voice assistant that will help potential patients contact doctors and other medical services.

The tool, dubbed “AlloCovid,” is now available for anyone in France to call and can handle 1,000 users at once.

A female voice greets the caller and prompts them to start a questionnaire about symptoms. Utilizing their postal code, the assistant will direct callers showing signs of COVID-19 to the nearest medical resources to help them receive treatment.

AlloCovid was developed in research firm Inserm in collaboration with the University of Paris and SNCF, a French railway company. It is hoped that the service will continue to help officials track new clusters of the virus once France’s lockdown lifts on May 11.

“To the best of our knowledge, this is the first time artificial intelligence is being used to serve public health,” Xavier Jouven, project lead for AlloCovid, said in a statement to the French newspaper, Le Monde.

While the Jouven’s exact meaning could be debated, AI has nonetheless been present in the fight against coronavirus since the start. Near the end of 2019, Canadian tech company BlueDot became one of the first international outfits to detect the COVID-19 outbreak in China. The company’s AI algorithm for spotting outbreaks reportedly issued an alert on New Year's Eve after noting 27 cases of a strange flu-like disease in the city of Wuhan.

AI is being deployed in almost every aspect of the fight against the global pandemic. Zegami, a research firm in Oxford, has been working on a program that will hypothetically be able to diagnose patients with coronavirus based on X-rays. Numerous other tech companies are also working on algorithms that will sift through mountains of research data to hopefully uncover unseen patterns in the diagnosis and treatment of the disease.

Coronavirus: Aerial views of Paris during confinement
Coronavirus: Aerial views of Paris during confinement Préfecture de Police /