Feature: Mobile tracking apps help Turkey combat COVID-19

Source: Xinhua| 2020-04-19 00:07:15|Editor: huaxia

by Burak Akinci

ANKARA, April 18 (Xinhua) -- The Turkish Health Ministry, in cooperation with local cell service providers, has launched an application to track the movement of patients diagnosed with the novel coronavirus through their smartphones to prevent further infections.

Fahrettin Altun, the Turkish presidency's director of communications, said the app, known as the "Pandemic Isolation Tracking Project," seeks to ensure that COVID-19 patients follow quarantine measures.

Downloading the app is mandatory for all confirmed coronavirus patients, and those found to be leaving their homes by GPS tracking, will receive automated text messages and calls asking them to return to certain quarantine areas.

If the citizens continue to disobey the rules, their violations will be shared with the security units and necessary administrative measures and enforcements will be implemented, such as a fine and if necessary incarceration.

Since the first COVID-19 case was confirmed in Turkey on March 11, health officials have recorded 78,546 cases of infection and 1,769 deaths in the country.

In the capital Ankara, the Turkish Health Ministry set up a team of more than 50 doctors and engineers to monitor patients and people who have been in close contacts with them, the Turkish press reported.

Some 4,600 medical crews are active across the country, and they have tracked over 320,000 people so far in an attempt to put a halt to the chain of infection by tracking down coronavirus patients and potential patients, Koca said.

Turkey has taken a series of strict measures and restrictions, including closing schools, bars, cafes, restaurants and all cultural and public places but has stopped short of imposing a full lockdown across the country.

Meanwhile, young Turkish entrepreneurs have developed a novel mobile application to support their country's efforts to curb the spread of the virus.

A group of technology enthusiasts developed "CoroWarner" app which allows community-driven contacts tracing, Eniscan Bubik, one of the project developers of the app, told Xinhua.

"The app will alert you if you have a close contact with someone who was tested positive without revealing this person's identity," he said.

Two teams, CoroWarner and GuvendeKal! (Stay Safe) decided to unify their projects which were both shortlisted at the Coronathon Turkey event last month.

"We are in discussion with the health ministry, which seemed interested in our product. We hope that it would be used by firms or municipalities too in the near future," Bubik said, insisting that the data privacy of users will not be used for any other purposes.

The more people use the app, the more the tracing becomes, the entrepreneur pointed out, indicating that it would become available soon for users on different application purchase platforms. Enditem