10 Feb, 2020
The Chinese government and a state-run tech company unveiled a mobile app that warns users when they are at imminent risk of contracting the novel coronavirus, which has claimed more than 900 lives.
The “close contact detector” has become available to Chinese users, requiring only their name, phone number and ID for installation, Xinhua reported on Monday. The app then lets the user know if they have been in contact with someone infected by the deadly 2019-nCoV virus.
The General Office of the State Council, the National Health Commission (NHC) and the government-owned China Electronics Technology Group Corporations (CETC) teamed up to design the potentially life-saving application.
It’s unclear how the app works and how accurate it is. The NHC only said that “close contact” refers to someone who – with no protection – shared the same office, classroom or house with confirmed coronavirus patients, or travelled with them on the same flight or enclosed air-conditioned train.
This is not the first online solution to have been designed during the sweeping coronavirus outbreak.
Qihoo 360, China’s biggest cybersecurity company, has also come up with an application that lets users check if they travelled by plane or train with someone who caught the virus.
Also, search engine Baidu has released an add-on for its Baidu Map app, which locates confirmed and suspected cases in cities that have been put on lockdown. The map also shows real-time data on the coronavirus, including traffic updates and epidemic control checkpoints.