Ireland to roll out application that can track potential coronavirus cases

WION Web Team New Delhi, India Mar 31, 2020, 10.10 AM(IST) Edited By: Bharat Sharma

Ireland to track patients using an application Photograph:( AFP )

Story highlights

The app will detect and notify when devices come in close contact with each other

As the coronavirus pandemic rips through communities and disrupts the flow of supplies across the world, many people have been left in the lurch.

With strictly enforced lockdowns in place around the world, people who may be positive but asymptomatic have no way to know if they’re carrying the virus. Most countries are limiting their testing to symptomatic patients to fast-track critical cases, and have advised minor cases to stay at home.

Ireland’s Health Service Executive (HSE) has come up with an interesting approach to tackle this testing and diagnosis issue.

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According to health services, a smartphone application to help trace potential contact will be unveiled in the next ten days.

Fuelled by Bluetooth technology, the app will detect and notify when devices come in close contact with each other.

It doesn’t sound like much. But… if a person tests positive for COVID-19, then based on the data log, people who have come in contact with the patient may be traced and quarantined.

Reported first by Business Post, the application has been described as “a cross-government effort in relation to a very important piece of technology” in countering the pandemic.

Speaking at a HSE media briefing today, HSE head of communications Paul Connors said the app is “a cross-government effort in relation to a very important piece of technology” in fighting the pandemic.

The HSE Head of Communications, Paul Connors said that they are working with multiple agencies including the Data Protection Commissioner to ensure the data is safe and uncompromised.

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“It’s likely this will be rolled out in the next 10 days and certainly it is an opt-in process for people,” he said.

Additionally, the application has a feedback mechanism to track the general state of the potential infected people. “That [information]  will be fed back in for epidemiological assessment as we go on”, he added.

Even though this app could help trace and tackle cases more effectively, the risks embedded into any application still linger. To deal with this, the app must be compliant with privacy and data protection laws as per global standards.

This is contingent on where the data is stored, the exact nature of information being stored, and whether the users remain anonymous. Another pertinent question that pops up is: who will have access to this data?

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