Ghana’s Vice President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, in collaboration with the Ministry of Communications this week launched a new app designed to help in tracing people who have come into contact with COVID-19 positive individuals.
The app is meant to augment the government’s effort in the fight against the global pandemic, and Dr Bawumia says that the gathering and availability of data has played a significant role in Ghana’s battle against COVID-19 so far.
“Data is our most powerful weapon in the fight against COVID-19. You cannot fight what you cannot see,” said the Vice President who is also the Chairman of Ghana’s COVID-19 Daily Monitoring Team.
The COVID-19 Tracker App is able to trace contacts of persons infected by the virus and show where they have been in recent times through various telephone-related data, and link such people to health professionals for urgent action to be taken.
The app, through the same telephone-related data, is also able to report contacts which are, or have recently been to COVID-19 hit countries, as well as track whether individuals required to self-quarantine, are indeed doing so.
After public concerns over the security of personal information required by the app to help in identifying and tracing persons who have come into contact with infected persons, Communications Minister Ursula Owusu-Ekuful sought to reassure Ghanaians that the app is safe to download and that none of their personal data is being collected.
The Minister explained that on 23 March the President signed the Executive Instrument 63 on the establishment of emergency communication services and that this was now being set up with telecommunication companies by using the metadata behind phone communications.
“It is not collecting the content of anybody’s communications. We are not interested in who is saying what to who, or who is sending which message to who,” she said. “We don’t even have the names of anybody. We’re just using the phone numbers and the locations to be able to assist the Ghana health service to track incidents of this virus, and to enable them in their interventions more accurately.”
The government says the app is user friendly and will be free to download on devices using Android and iOS operating systems later this week on ghcovid19.com.
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