New app from Seychellois company helping COVID-19 contact tracing effort
Called 'Contak', the QR code-based tracing application allows a user to register places they have been, facilitating the work of contact tracers at the Public Health Authority. (Space 95)
(Seychelles News Agency) - A technology company in Seychelles -- Space 95 -- has developed a contact tracing app to help the island nation's Ministry of Health keep track of and control the COVID-19 situation.
Called 'Contak', the QR code-based tracing application allows a user to register places they have been, facilitating the work of contact tracers at the Public Health Authority.
In a recent press conference, the Public Health Commissioner, Jude Gedeon, said that the Ministry of Health welcomes this app and is working closely with the developers.
At the moment the app is only available on Google Play for users with an Android smartphone. When downloading the app, a person needs to provide their full name, phone number, National Identification Number (NIN) and address to register. Another model for other operating systems like iOS will be developed later.
The chief operations officer at Space 95, Andy Noel, told SNA on Monday that some of the problems encountered with traditional contact tracing are the fact that most people cannot recall accurately all the places that they have been. Others provide false information in visitors' logbooks as there is a lack of privacy.
He explained that scanning QR codes at all venues a person accesses is important.
"If you are found to be positive with COVID-19, one simply needs to go to the app and upload the diary to the health agency using Wi-Fi or internet data. This information is uploaded to a server at DICT (Department of Information, Technology and Communication), allowing the relevant authority to access the information. Someone who has scanned the same poster the same time as you will receive an alert, letting them know that they are potential contacts," said Noel.
Currently, a person needs to call the Ministry of Health to inform officials that they are a potential contact. The contact tracer will evaluate each case to determine if the person was a close contact or not, and then inform on the next step.
Noel outlined that there are three ways to use the app – scanning QR codes at the entrance of a venue, having the attendant scan your app-generated QR code or the scanning of a friend's or colleagues that you meet or come into contact with regularly.
Upon scanning a code, information is kept on the user's phone and at this point, the person does not need any data or Wi-Fi connection to complete the scan. All information collected on the smartphone is encrypted, which means that only the user can access this information.
"The app to some extent is good and will facilitate and fast-track contact tracing but at the same time people who are not IT savvy will be disadvantaged as they will not be able to capture information pertaining to their movement," said Rebecca Pool, a resident who has heard of the app.
People who do not have a smartphone and hence cannot download the app can have someone else register their details and generate a code and have it printed. The code can then be provided and scanned by a door attendant at a venue. Similarly, a person can obtain a QR code ID card supplied by the Public Health Authority.
Additionally, the person can present their Identification Card at the venue and provide other details to the door attendant.
This month marks one year since Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, recorded its first positive case of COVID-19. The island nation has recorded 3,315 cases to date out of which 431 are still active. Sixteen deaths have been recorded.