The national Health Department has launched the COVID Alert SA app, which informs people if they have been in contact with someone who has COVID-19, says a Polity report. President Cyril Ramaphosa called the app, which was launched on Wednesday, a "powerful tool to support our digital contact tracing efforts".
Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said: "Coronavirus has disrupted all of our lives. The sooner we can defeat the virus, the sooner our economy will recover and the sooner our lives can return to normal. We all need to play our part in preventing the second wave to protect ourselves, our families and our communities. That is why today we are launching the powerful new tool that will help us to contain the coronavirus and prevent a second wave of infections."
The COVID Alert SA app uses advanced Bluetooth technology which enables the app to exchange a random code with other phones that are close by. "If you later test positive for COVID-19, you can use the app to notify all other users that you have been in contact with in the past 14 days. All phones that have exchanged codes will receive an alert with instructions on what to do next and how to take care of themselves if they have been exposed," Mkhize explained.
The user will not have to pay for mobile data when using the app as it has been zero-rated by all of South Africa's mobile network providers.
Specialist pathologist at the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), Dr Kerrigan McCarthy, says the app is designed to protect your privacy and will not track your location or collect personal information. "If you report your diagnosis, you and your contacts will remain completely anonymous. When you take a test for COVID-19, you will receive a unique pin via SMS that you can use anonymously to report your diagnosis on the app," she explained.
Mkhize said the power was now in the hands of citizens and urged them to download the app to aid the fight against the global pandemic.
Full Polity report
SA Health Department material