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Coronavirus tracking on the Arogya Setu app

by Seema Pherwani
Coronavirus tracking on the Arogya Setu app

Public health organisations have identified `contact tracing’ as a valuable tool to help contain the spread of coronavirus. What it essentially means is `finding out who you have been in close contact with physically to have contracted the virus.’ This technique has been a key in which South Korea and Singapore have managed the COVID -19 Pandemic  better than most countries.

Based on this, the Indian government has launched the Arogya Setu app, a tool that aims to help people to self-assess their risk of being infected with Covid-19. The app uses Bluetooth technology and GPS generated information to alert citizens about their proximity to Covid-19 infected persons.

Released by the National Informatics Centre, under the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, the app has garnered over 500,000 downloads on the Google Play store within 36 hours of its launch. The app starts off with asking for the person’s mobile number to authenticate the sign up, which can be done in English and ten other Indian languages. This is followed by a security and privacy notice that details all the information that the app will collect and use.

The app will then request for access to the device location, followed by the switching on of Bluetooth connectivity for 120 seconds. The app needs Bluetooth and GPS to be switched on continuously for it to work. The self-assessment begins with a request for information such as gender, full name, age, countries travelled to in the last 30 days and professional details.

“The app continuously collects your location data and maintains a record of the places where you have come in contact with other registered users,” the privacy policy states under the information collected column.

The app suggests that the personal information collected will be stored locally in the device and will only be uploaded and used by the government in “anonymized, aggregated datasets.” (Anonynimzed refers to removing personally identifiable information from data sets) for the purpose of generating reports, heat maps and other statistical visualizations for the management of Covid-19.

India COVID-19 Hotspots

The government has identified 170 districts with Covid-19 hotspots or ‘red zone’ areas, including in all six metros. These areas have shown significant number of positive cases, contributing more than 80% of cases in India with doubling rate of less than four days.

Besides, 207 districts-where the rate of doubling is currently low but which can be potential hotspots-have been classified as ‘non-hotspots’ or ‘white zones’. Apart from this, there are ‘green zone’ districts with no new confirmed Covid-19 case in the last 28 days.

The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has also stated that there is no community transmission of India so far, adding that the chain of transmission of coronavirus can be broken successfully if no case is reported for 28 days from a particular area.