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South Africa launches COVID-19 contact tracing app

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South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has welcomed the launch of the Bluetooth-enabled mobile application, COVID Alert South Africa, which will strengthen South Africa’s contact tracing efforts.

Global experience has demonstrated the risk of a resurgence of infections, or a “second wave,” once restrictions on social and economic activity are lifted. While the trajectory of the epidemic in South Africa has stabilised, such a resurgence remains a real and present danger in our own country.

The most effective way to achieve suppression of the virus and prevent outbreaks from occurring again is to identify positive cases and trace and isolate their contacts as quickly as possible, in order to break the chain of transmission.

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COVID Alert South Africa is a cutting-edge mobile application that uses the Exposure Notification system created by Apple and Google in line with global best practice. It uses Bluetooth technology to notify users if they have been in contact with coronavirus, including strangers in retail stores, in public transport or in any public space.

To make it possible for all South Africans to benefit from use of the app, all mobile network operators in the country have zero-rated the app. 

The app is designed to protect users’ privacy, and does not track a user’s location or collect any personally identifiable information. The system is fully anonymous, and a user’s identity is not revealed to their contacts if they report a positive diagnosis.

The launch of this app is a significant milestone in our country’s fight against coronavirus, and will play an important role in preventing a second wave of infections. We must work together to prevent a resurgence at all costs.

The President congratulates the National Department of Health and its partners who have through this collaboration proved South Africa’s significant and growing capacity for innovation.

President Ramaphosa said: “I encourage every South African to download this app, which is an important, innovative and necessary part of protecting ourselves, our families, our co-workers and our communities.”

“The more South Africans download the app, the more effective it will be in stopping a second wave of COVID-19 infection. But even as we use the app, we must still wear cloth masks, wash or sanitise our hands regularly, maintain social distancing and take all other precautions to keep safe.

“Let’s use COVID Alert South Africa. The power is in our hands.”

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