The Ministry of Health in seeking to improve its response to COVID-19 has introduced a new digital tool in the management of this pandemic “758 Care Alert.” This mobile contact tracing app is now ready for use and available in the Google and Apple Play Stores.
Digital technologies are being harnessed to support the public-health response to COVID-19 worldwide. They now play an important role in a comprehensive response to outbreaks and pandemics, complementing conventional public-health measures, and thereby contribute to reducing the human and economic impact of COVID-19.
Contact tracing is the cornerstone of preventative medicine and a public health strategy in reducing the rate of transmission of a disease. However, the conventional method is
- A laborious process
- Time consuming
- Can quickly overwhelm the health system with an increase in case incidence as is being experienced at the moment
- Heavily dependent on the confirmed cases memory, recall capability, physical status, honesty and up to date phone records.
758 Care Alert will provide an avenue, where we, public health officials, can more accurately get information on the contacts of confirmed cases.
The app has two components: a mobile component and a web-based tool.
1. Once the mobile component is downloaded on the user’s phone and the GPS is turned on by the user, all the locations which the user has visited in the past 14 days will be recorded on the users phone. The user if confirmed can then submit the location data to the health authorities by pressing the submit button of the application. The app reduces the risk of privacy violations as there is time-limited storage of data on the user’s own device and requires the users consent to share the data.
2. The location data is submitted to the web based component held by the health authorities or contact tracers. This allows for a more efficient interview of the confirmed case and creates an anonymous map of public places and times where they have been.
This app will improve contact tracing activities by allowing public health officials to more efficiently identify exposed contacts, communicate and advise them on testing and quarantine.
For this app to produce the desired results it is necessary that all Saint Lucians download the app to allow for effective contact tracing should one be confirmed with COVID-19. The app can be downloaded from the Apple or Google Play Store by searching for 758 Care Alert.
The Ministry of Health looks forward to the cooperation and installation of 758 Care Alert by the general public as we continue in our efforts to control the spread of the disease.