The Department of Health in South Africa has launched the COVID-19 Alert SA app, which is a free exposure notification app for Android and iOS.
An app which has been built using Apple and Google’s exposure notification framework.
The app lets people know when they have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, and it is available to anyone in South Africa who has a Bluetooth-enabled smartphone.
COVID-19 Alert SA app, which is available on both the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store, uses Bluetooth and runs in the background once it is installed.
“The app uses Bluetooth signals to exchange ‘random codes’ (random numbers that change every so often) with other COVID Alert SA app users,” said the Department of Health.
“This happens when their smartphones are within 2 metres of each other for more than 15 minutes.When an app user tests positive for COVID-19, they can report this information on the app anonymously.
Their device then uploads all of the random codes that it has on record for the past two weeks to the exposure notification server.
The server then sends these codes to the other users of the app, and if there is a match, the user who has been in contact with the person who has tested positive for COVID-19 is notified.
Users who receive this notification will also be informed on how to self-quarantine, and how to remain healthyThe Department of Health stresses that the app, which is completely voluntary, keeps users’ information completely safe thanks to its Bluetooth functionality.
“At no stage is the identity and location of the device users required for this exchange to happen,” it explained.
“All that the COVID Alert SA app tracks is the proximity of smartphone devices to one another and how long they are in contact.”
The app does not use the device’s GPS functionality, nor does it track the user’s location.\