OPINION | Unpacking the legal and ethical aspects of South Africa’s Covid-19 track and trace app
Research models have found that the more people use these apps, the more transmission of the disease can be reduced and the more scope there is to ease quarantine measures.
The most effective way to stop the spread of a virus is to prevent contact with everyone who is infected. Those who are infected can be isolated and treated if necessary. To determine who they are, it’s necessary to actively look for and manage cases.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, emerging technologies are being repurposed to help trace whoever has been in contact with an infected person.
Some of these technologies, such as the Global Positioning System (GPS), Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, are not new. GPS has been used to find accident victims at precise geographic locations. Some of the uses of Wi-Fi are oxygen monitoring devices, smart beds, access to electronic medical records and real-time access to X-rays and magnetic resonance imaging scans.
Now, these tools can also help do one of the most important jobs in the pandemic: track and trace. They allow people some movement and economic activity, with the ability to manage their own risk of being exposed to possible infection or spreading any infection.