WHO is working on an app with coronavirus information and, maybe, contact tracing
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WHO is working on an app with coronavirus information and, maybe, contact tracing

If you’re still not sure what symptoms constitute COVID-19, the World Health Organization is making a mobile app for you.

Reuters reported Saturday that the WHO is developing an app that will guide users (particularly those in countries with limited resources) through symptoms to help them figure out if they have the disease caused by the coronavirus or not. It should be out sometime this month. Individual governments will be able to use the tech for their own apps, too.

It’s worth noting that this is not a replacement for a COVID-19 test. From the sound of it, the app will ask questions about your current condition and offer testing information based on your country.

This could be helpful for people in countries without robust technological or educational infrastructures. Misinformation can happen anywhere, too, so having an official resource from the leading global health authority could straighten things out for people who still aren’t sure what makes COVID-19 different from a cold or a flu.

This isn’t set in stone yet, but the WHO is apparently also thinking about including a Bluetooth-based contact tracing feature, as well. Contact tracing has been part of South Korea’s arguably world-leading efforts at containing the virus, but similar attempts in places like North Dakota have not been as successful. 

That’s to say nothing of the privacy concerns inherent in diligently tracking individual people’s movements. Google and Apple have banned the use of GPS in their contact tracing tech, but privacy advocates worry about contact tracing data collected through alternative means being breached.

Regardless of how or if the WHO’s app enables contact tracing, its existence could be a net positive from an informational standpoint alone. Until it’s out, remember to stay home and wash your hands.





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