CAPE TOWN- The South African Department of Health has launched a contact-tracing mobile app that alerts users if they have been in close proximity with someone who has been infected with Covid-19.
The official government app, Covid Alert SA, uses advanced Bluetooth technology to emit a randomly generated code which is picked up by other users when two phones comes in close contact with one another.
When a Covid Alert SA user anonymously reports to the app they have tested positive, all other users with whom they have been in contact with for the past two weeks will immediately be notified of their exposure. All phones that have exchanged codes will receive an alert and users will receive instructions on what to do next.
The app is available for Android devices on the Google Play store and on the Apple App Store for iPhones. It’s built on the Apple–Google Exposure Notifications application programmable interface (API).
While the app is free and only 3 MB in size, it does require Bluetooth and the phone's location to be turned on which could lead to significant battery drain.
The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) have assured South Africans that the app is designed to protect users' privacy as it does not track their location or collect any personal information.
Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said the app could be a powerful new tool that will help the country to contain the Coronavirus and prevent a second wave of infections.
"We all need to play our part to prevent a second wave, to protect ourselves, our families and our communities," he said.
Depending on how many people install the app and report positive results, Covid Alert SA could help contain the outbreak.
For LIVE updates on the Coronavirus pandemic, follow us on Twitter :