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The Department of Health has announced the launch of a new app to alert users in South Africa if they have been exposed to someone with COVID-19.
The app, called COVID Alert SA, is a free exposure notification app. By tracking smartphone proximity, the app can warn users who could have been exposed to someone who has COVID-19.
“By downloading and using the COVID Alert SA app, you become a part of a powerful digital network of app users who choose to work together for the benefit of everyone in the app community while all enjoying complete privacy and anonymity,” the department says on the COVID Alert SA website.
How the COVID Alert South Africa app works
According to the website, the app does not track your location. Rather, it relies on Bluetooth technology to track proximity between smartphones.
Smartphones that have the app exchange a Bluetooth key when they are two metres from each other.
As a result, constant location tracking is not necessary.
“This app helps us to work together to stop the spread of COVID-19 using Bluetooth contact-tracing technology — which simply tracks close contact (proximity) between smartphones, and not the actual location of the smartphones,” government notes.
It also does not identify users to each other in the case of a confirmed coronavirus case. App users can anonymously report if they have tested positive for the virus.
The app then sends notifications to devices that have recently been in close proximity to the user.
The app does not require other health information, identifying details, or access to your phone’s contacts.
You can find out more about the COVID Alert SA app on the South African coronavirus information portal.
Online tools that address the challenges of the pandemic continue to roll out in South Africa.
VFS Global launched an online booking service for coronavirus testing on 1 September.
Meanwhile, Uber’s new package delivery service aims to help loved ones connect while maintaining social distancing.
Feature image: COVID Alert SA