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Coronavirus: AlHosn tracing app to help UAE return to normalcy

Saman Haziq/Dubai
Filed on May 22, 2020
uae, coronavirus, covid19, dubai, abu dhabi, sheikh mohammed, sheikh mohamed, covid tracing app

(Supplied)

'Contact tracing happens only when the person tests positive, helps authorities monitor you and your contacts on a real-time basis'

As the Ministry of Health and Prevention launched a nationwide campaign to encourage people to download the UAE's official Covid-19 testing and contact tracing app - AlHosn UAE, doctors have urged that this one step can help get back to normal life.

Dr Walid Shaker, consultant of cardiac surgery, Burjeel Hospital, Abu Dhabi, who also handles a number of Covid-19 emergency cases, said the app will limit the spread of the virus and is a practical way to help get back to normal life.

"This is a very important app that can help in isolating the Covid-19 positive people and breaking the lockdown as it will control the infection by identifying people who either have Covid-19 or have been in contact (or close proximity) to people who are infected. It has encrypted secure tracing identifier that is exchanged locally on devices of people in close proximity to another but for that you need to keep your Bluetooth on at all times," Dr Shaker said.

Highlighting another important aspect of the app, he said: "It can notify the authorities if a person who has been asked to isolate himself ventures out from his isolated area. This will keep both the patient in check as well as the authorities informed."

Dr Shaker said the app can also help healthcare workers in hospitals as they can direct the patient to either the Covid negative area or isolation areas.

"When a person comes for any surgery or test, healthcare workers have to take a number of precautions as we don't know if he or she is Covid negative or positive. So, if the person has this app, then it will facilitate the acceptance of the patient in non-Covid area in the facility. The patient won't need any isolation," he added.

Dr Prasad Narasimha, specialist anaesthetist at NMC Speciality Hospital, Al Ain, said the app plays a crucial role in contact-tracing. "Every user will have a QR code that indicates a guide to his health condition. It also has a feature where the person can know whether he or she has been in contact with anyone who tested positive for Covid-19. And all this is done without touching your personal data. And the health authorities will only need to access the contact data list of the infected person." He added that if one has the app, he or she can get tested more quickly.

"Contact tracing happens only when the person tests positive and it helps authorities monitor you and your contacts on a real-time basis. Therefore, it is important that everyone downloads this app and help the government contain the virus," he said.

Know the app

What is AlHosn?

AlHosn is the official UAE app for contact tracing and health testing related to Covid-19, launched by the National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority (NCEMA).

The app helps trace people who have been in close proximity to confirmed Covid-19 cases to prevent the spread of the virus. It also provides residents with access to their test results and a health colour coding system that identifies and allows individuals that are free from Covid-19 disease to access public spaces.

How does AlHosn use contact tracing to protect us?

AlHosn uses an encrypted Secure Tracing Identifier (STI) that is exchanged locally on devices of individuals in proximity of one another. The STI consists of anonymized data and a timestamp. The anonymized STI is stored in encrypted form temporarily for 3 weeks on the phone.

When an individual is known to be infected, they will be requested by the health authority to share the stored STI list on their phone. This list will provide the authorities with accurate information to reach out to possibly infected people and have them tested - this is the most effective way to stop the spread of the virus.

How to instal the app?

> AlHosn can be downloaded at the Apple App store, Google Play, Galaxy or Huawei Huawei AppGallery stores.

> Select your language - available in Arabic, English and Hindi

> Authenticate by entering your Emirates ID and phone number followed by the OTP sent to your phone

> Turn on Bluetooth and push notifications on your smartphone

Benefits of AlHosn

> No Internet required: The app uses Bluetooth to pick up signals from nearby mobile phones that also have the app installed and does not require data

> Prove you are Covid-negative: It can help prove you are Covid-negative in a reliable way when you apply to flight journey, access to malls and shops

> Get your test results faster: Receive your Covid-19 test results faster and directly on phone

> A guide to your health condition: Every user will have a QR code which indicates a guide to his/her health condition.

> Trace your contacts: The app also has a feature where you can know whether you have been in contact with anyone who tested positive for Covid-19

> Protect our community: AlHosn makes it faster to complete contact tracing on a national level so we can all get back to our normal lives. When most people use it, we will be able to control the spread of Covid-19

Colour-coding for your health

The AlHosn health coding system involves the generation of a unique personal QR code and a colour-coding system that determines the status of your health. The colours represent the following:

Grey: Indicates you have not been tested.

Green: Indicates you have been tested and you are healthy, this grants you access to public places.

Amber: Indicates that you need to be tested or retested due to possible exposure to Covid-19.

Red: Indicates your most recent test have shown that you are infected and must seek the advice of the health care authority.

saman@khaleejtimes.com



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