The coronavirus is a family of viruses that can cause a range of illnesses in humans including the common cold and more severe forms like SARS and MERS which are life-threatening. The virus is named after its shape which takes the form of a crown with protrusions around it and hence is known as coronavirus. 

The Indian government recently launched a Covid-19 tracker app called Aarogya Setu in a bid to track the spread of the Covid-19 in the nation. The app has gained popularity among the masses and it has also crossed the 50 million-mark users within 13 days of its launch.

Arogya Setu App

Aarogya Setu App, India's main contact tracing technology, was launched on April 2nd this year. The app was developed by the National Informatics Centre under the Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology. 

This app is designed to help control the spread of coronavirus and make its information accessible to the common people. This special app also helps in finding out corona positive people present nearby. It helps to keep track of other app users that a person came in contact with. It then alerts app users if any of the contacts tests positive for COVID-19.

After downloading, this app asks if you have cough, fever or trouble breathing etc. If you do not have any such problem, you will be in the Green Zone. This app tells the user to keep the mobile phone's Bluetooth and location devices on. Whenever the user visits a crowded place, this app keeps sending messages from nearby mobile phones through Bluetooth. When the user stands near someone who is also a normal it shows a green zone. But if that person becomes corona positive after 10 days, this app will alert you immediately.

Steps to Use Arogya Setu App

The steps required to use the app are as follows: 

  • After you've run the app, allow it to access your device's location, as prompted. 

  • You'll get an OTP, enter it and you are on. 

  • Choose your gender from the options given. 

  • Enter your full name, then age, and then profession, as asked. 

  • You'll be asked about your foreign travel history in the last 30 days. Give the appropriate answer. Your foreign travel history, if any, will be matched with that of those who've tested positive, with the help of ICMR database. 

  • Then, the app asks you whether or not you are ready to volunteer in the times of need. Assuming you answer Yes, the 20-second assessment test starts. 

  • After you have installed Aarogya Setu in your phone, it will detect other nearby smartphones that also have the app installed. It can then figure out the risk of infection based on sophisticated parameters if any of these contacts are tested positive. 

  • The basis of this calculation — which is done using Bluetooth, algorithms and artificial intelligence — is the smartphone user's interaction with others. 

Benefits of Contact Tracing Apps Such as Arogya Setu

The recent outbreak of coronavirus is believed to have occurred in a market for illegal wildlife in the central Chinese city of Wuhan. Chinese health authorities and the WHO are investigating the outbreak of the recent coronavirus. The Chinese government initially locked down Wuhan - the epicentre of the virus outbreak. However, it was too late. The virus has spread to all continents now, except Antarctica. 

Contact tracing apps are a measure over and above the on-ground responses. Countries such as Taiwan, Singapore, and South Korea have used contact tracing apps in their fight to stop the spread of Coronavirus. There is no hard evidence on whether these contact-tracing apps by themselves have been effective in containing the spread. But the apps in Singapore and Taiwan have been open to scrutiny by the public. In fact, in Taiwan, hacktivists, developers, and citizens worked with the government to develop newer functionality and it has been both, a bottom-up as well as a top-down approach. In Singapore’s case, the TraceTogether app only needs a mobile number and does not need anything else, and its use is voluntary.

Taiwan and South Korea, apart from China, have managed to flatten the curve quickly. They have also had SARS and MERS outbreaks before, so their health authorities are equipped to handle virus outbreaks or at least have the right systems in place. An Indian example of that would be the state of Kerala, which had the right systems in place after the state was affected by the Nipah virus and has been impressive in containing the spread of Coronavirus as compared to the rest of the country.

Basic Precautions Against Covid-19

Here are some of the basic and important precautions to take against Covid-19.

  • The best way to prevent this illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus.

  • Wash your hands often.

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick, even inside your home.

  • Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when around others.

  • Cover coughs and sneezes.

  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily.

End Note

From the time of Covid-19 outbreak, India has expanded the screening of international travellers. Few Indian travellers who were found with the coronavirus strain have been isolated and treated before their release. Aarogya Setu (literally means bridge for freedom from the disease) is Indian COVID-19 tracking mobile application developed by the National Informatics Centre and that comes under the government Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology. It helps with contact tracking and thereby, containment of the novel Covid-19.