Telkom steps up fight against Covid-19 with track-and-trace solution
CAPE TOWN – Telkom South Africa said on Thursday that it had stepped up the fight against Covid-19 with the development of a novel track-and-trace solution for the country’s unique circumstances.
Telkom group chief executive Sipho Maseko said in a statement that the track and trace system collated multiple data sources such as geographic information system (GIS) to track an infected person’s exposure and who they might have unknowingly exposed to the virus to.
He said this would reduce the current reliance on the patient’s own recollections of who they might have exposed unknowingly and enabled the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) to contact people who were in the same proximity as the patient.
“At Telkom, we are deeply concerned about what the spread of this pandemic may mean for ordinary South Africans and for the already overstretched health sector. We are privileged to be able to contribute to this solution which we believe will help to significantly contain the spread of new infections,” said Maseko.
President Ramaphosa on Monday announced that South Africa would be deploying 10 000 field workers to expand testing efforts in a bid to slow the spread of the disease.
Telkom said its team had been working with the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) and CSIR to develop a novel track-and-trace solution to identify people who might have contracted Covid-19.
The track-and-trace system is in line with global best practice promoted by the World Health Organization, and also takes account of South Africa’s unique circumstances which include high-income inequality, poverty and overcrowding.
In certain communities, the Department of Health will be using trackers to trace primary contacts and ensure testing for secondary contacts. Telkom said it had partnered with Samsung to distribute 1 500 handsets to trackers across the country. The system will integrate the information collected by the trackers.
CEO & President of Samsung Africa, Sung Yoon said: “What we face is a generation-defining moment, a challenge unlike any other. However, our belief in Africa and its people remains steadfast and strong. I know, working together, we can and we will rise to this challenge.”
Telkom said the successful development of this novel track and trace system was part of its broader support in the fight against the spread of the pandemic in South Africa. Telkom supports the government COVID 19 call centre and is supporting primary healthcare workers in partnership with the Red Cross.
Telkom recently pledged R15 million to bolster the country’s primary healthcare efforts in the battle against Covid-19.
Maseko said the funds would be used to support healthcare workers who were at the frontline of the battle against the spread of Covid-19, particularly in South Africa’s most vulnerable communities.
“We believe it is up to each one of us to do what we can to flatten the curve and reduce the possible impact of this virus particularly for those who rely on the public health system,” said Maseko.
The donation was part of Telkom’s multi-pronged approach to support South Africa’s efforts to contain the spread of Covid-19 and its effects. Others include the zero-rating data costs in accessing learning material for universities and public schools to enable learning and teaching to continue.