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Government building two apps to track COVID-19 infection paths

The government is building two apps to track COVID-19 infection paths, the Economic Times reports. The first app, Corona Kavach, is built by the Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology (MEITY) and the second, CoWin-20, is being built by NITI Aayog, the government’s think tank. Both apps, which are under beta testing right now, aim to alert users who come in contact with people diagnosed with or at risk to have contracted COVID-19.

While CoWin-20 is circulating in closed groups, MediaNama was able to install MEITY’s app, which is on the Play Store. The app seems to work by logging GPS location, unlike Singapore’s solution, which works with Bluetooth.

The app says that users will stay anonymous, but that they will get alerts when their location has been logged near a “a host or a carrier of COVID-19”. Users can manually refresh their status once an hour. There are different risk criteria on top. The app also has an “Upload” section — presumably for COVID-19 positive users to register themselves. This is not possible to confirm though, since neither the Help Desk nor the FAQ link at the bottom works.

It is unclear how much this app can help once the government confirms the community transmission stage of COVID-19, where cases will multiply exponentially. Countries like Singapore have been able to use such solutions because they have been able to aggressively test and quarantine cases before major clusters of the disease start appearing with no apparent cause. Also, note that this is not the final app, as the Economic Times reports that a final app would be a mishmash of the “best” parts of both the NITI Aayog’s app and MEITY’s.

A decent chunk of Indians don’t own smartphones, so any such app’s rollout will be necessarily limited in its purview. We will be tracking further developments on this front.

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For more on COVID-19 and Privacy, click here.

Written By

I cover the digital content ecosystem and telecom for MediaNama.

MediaNama’s mission is to help build a digital ecosystem which is open, fair, global and competitive.

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