Ministry plans tracker app to trace coronavirus chains

The application uses the phone's Bluetooth technology to look at contacts from the previous 14 days in case the user tests positive for Covid-19.

0
232
Smartphone with coronavirus graphic / Credit: iStock

The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health is planning to introduce a mobile phone app to help trace the spread of coronavirus in Finland.

Other EU countries have already announced they would plan to roll out a similar schemes, which aim to enable faster identification of people exposed to the virus; be able to target testing resources more accurately; and to break chains of transmission.

Use of the app would be voluntary and people would have to opt-in to the service which uses the Bluetooth technology on mobile phones.

The app would collect data about recent encounters with other people also using the app on their phones, and then figure out who might have been infected in the days before someone tests positive for Covid-19.

Potentially, the app could send a message to other people who may have been in contact with an infected person to warn them to get tested themselves, or to self-isolate and watch out for any symptoms.

The ministry says the app would be regulated by data protection laws, and privacy laws and that it wouldn’t gather any personal information about the person using it on their phone.

Vaasa app trial tracks hospital workers

Meanwhile a similar smartphone application that helps healthcare professionals identify people who may have been exposed to coronavirus is being piloted at Vaasa Central Hospital during May.

In the testing phase for the Ketju app, the service is used by a small number of staff at the hospital to simulate possible patients as well as healthcare authorities in a controlled environment.

“Digital identification of those exposed to the coronavirus is important for the future of Finland as a whole and regionally for the Vaasa hospital district. We want to be at the forefront of looking for tools to solve the acute crisis” explains Marina Kinnunen, Director of the Vaasa Hospital District.

The app has been developed by Finnish tech companies and funded in part by Sitra.