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October 2020
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COVID 10 and Use of High Tech in Contact Tracing

 

Guest Publication

The Coronavirus disease is famous for causing sickness by targeting the human respiratory system. It is the belief that most persons infected by the virus will recuperate without special medical treatment. However, older people with previous severe illnesses and weakened immune systems will more likely require special treatment to ensure recovery and avoid death.

The coronavirus is spread mainly via sprinkles of saliva or nasal excrete when an infected individual sneezes or coughs. To curb the spread of the disease, several treatment and tracking methods have been utilized and interestingly, the use of mobile applications to do so is one of them.

Contact Tracing Applications

Contact tracing is a procedure of searching for, pointing out, and surveilling people who might have contracted the coronavirus, especially those who are related to an infected person. Such people are then mandated to quarantine themselves for a minimum of 14 days and report all symptoms.

The use of contact-tracing applications is not a new thing. With many nations of the world applying the use of these apps and basically every cell-phone in the world having GPS signals, it is a simple case of using said signals to determine where the potentially infected persons have been.  

The Use of Contact Tracing Applications in African Countries

As of May 2020, South Africa remains the only nation in Africa to employ the use of contact-tracing apps in locating suspected coronavirus patients. It is general knowledge that the SA government seeks to collaborate with tech-based firms to create a country-wide COVID-19 tracking index. To achieve this, the Covi-ID app, employs the use of Bluetooth, cellphone, and GPS signals to pinpoint the current place of the suspected infected person and store said information.

In this global pandemic, it is the duty of the government to ensure the reduction of the spread of coronavirus amongst her citizens. Although the manual way of contact tracing, which is employed by deploying health officials to various parts of the country to physically locate, isolate, and test suspected infected persons have been tested and trusted in other situations.

However, one could argue that it is highly expensive to mobilize people in such a manner. The idea of contact-tracing applications is not as expensive and, in a way, even more accurate. Given that said applications will require the government to tap into the mobile devices of people, and require people to always be with their mobile phones for accuracy, it has sparked a lot of privacy-related concerns.

Privacy Concerns Relating to the Use of Mobile Tracing Applications

It is the general worry of people, on whether or not to give the government their information. Some believe that this is an extreme situation, given the easy mode of transmission of the coronavirus through bodily fluids, and is, therefore, requires drastic solutions. Others have maintained that giving out their data now in this situation is risky and that it could open everyone to serious privacy violations later in life, believing that the government will retain, and further take advantage of the information after the pandemic is over, to spy on them and in doing so, breach their rights.

They also believe that the implementation of contact-tracing applications does nothing to help in the battle against the virus, with nations more technologically advanced, recording COVID-19 deaths more than less developed countries.

A survey conducted by ExpressVPN in the United States shows that, about 55% of people said that they would be inclined to get a contact-tracing application, whilst voicing out the worry about possible information exploit.

About 80% of interviewed people are of the opinion that the government and the collaborating tech-based establishments will attempt to further make use of their data given the privacy-related lawsuits tech firms find themselves in these days.

Conclusion

With nations around the world looking to reopen and pick up their shaken economies, resorting to tech to identify potentially sick persons seems like the best way to curtail the spread of the virus, since almost every nation that has lifted lockdown has experienced a spike in their number of recorded cases.  

Nevertheless, it is the general opinion that governments should prioritize the development of general

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