South Africa launches Covid-19 contact-tracing app
The South African health department creates an app to help facilitate the Covid-19 contact-tracing procedures as part of the country's effort to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.
The health department in South Africa launched on Wednesday Covid Alert SA app that will facilitate and enhance the contact-tracing procedures implemented by medical teams as part of the countries effort to strengthen the existing methods adopted, as the app will send instant notifications to contacts if an individual test positive for Covid-19.
Covid Alert SA is built on the exposure notification Application Programming Interface (API), developed by Apple and Google to enable contact tracing through mobile phones, in compliance with API privacy requirements as the app doesn't track users' locations or collect personal information that should be kept discreet.
The app uses Bluetooth to establish a randomly generated code picked by other users who are in the same radius and it frequently changing in addition to keeping the user's identity anonymous. Over time, each user builds an "encounter history" of those they have been in contact with.
Should any user tests positive for the virus, they are supposed to report his diagnosis using the app, so that all other users who have been in close contact with that person during the previous 14 days would be notified immediately to take the proper action.
Commenting on the app launch, Health Department's Director-General, Dr. Sandile Buthelez Said "Global experience has demonstrated the risk of a resurgence once restrictions on social and economic activity are lifted. While the trajectory of the epidemic in South Africa has stabilized, such a resurgence remains a real and present danger in our own country".
"This technology allows us to effectively break the chain of transmission by dramatically reducing the time between exposure and knowing one has been exposed so that one can take action by self-quarantining and testing when necessary", he added.
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