Tech­nol­ogy joins fight

Launch of app to track users’ symp­toms, al­le­vi­at­ing pres­sure on health-care sys­tems

Cape Argus - - METRO - MWANGI GITHAHU mwangi.githahu@inl.co.za

LO­CAL com­pa­nies and aca­demic in­sti­tu­tions are lead­ing the on­slaught against the Covid-19 health cri­sis, us­ing tech­nol­ogy to find so­lu­tions to the pan­demic such as pro­vid­ing new equip­ment and find­ing ways to al­le­vi­ate pres­sure on med­i­cal ser­vices.

Yes­ter­day saw the launch of the Coron­aFighter web-en­abled app found at www.test­for­covid.co.za

The app al­lows you to track your symp­toms through a sim­pli­fied au­to­mated self-mon­i­tor­ing process. The Coron­aFighter plat­form was ini­ti­ated, cre­ated and de­vel­oped by Dr Jar­rad van Zuy­dam and Dr Rick Diesel from In­sightFit.

Van Zuy­dam said: “Due to Covid-19’s ten­dency to present symp­toms slowly and be passed along in­cred­i­bly eas­ily, we should start self-mon­i­tor­ing as soon as pos­si­ble. The health sta­tus and symp­toms of pa­tients with coro­n­avirus also changes over time, and pre-test­ing will en­sure that there are fewer false neg­a­tive tests.”

An­other com­pany, epi­one.net, has built a pre-screen­ing symp­tom checker into its plat­form. Founder and chief ex­ec­u­tive, Garikai Go­vati, said: “The idea be­hind self-mon­i­tor­ing is to al­le­vi­ate the pres­sure on health-care in­fra­struc­ture – it does not take health-care providers out of the equa­tion.”

Client Di­rec­tor, Health and Ed­u­ca­tion, Aure­con, Kate Roper, said: “Aure­con is pro­vid­ing ad­vi­sory sup­port to the Na­tional Depart­ment of Health on the pro­vi­sion of tem­po­rary fa­cil­i­ties; how to con­vert build­ings into health-care fa­cil­i­ties, health-care worker hos­tels, quar­an­tine sites; and how to upgrade ex­ist­ing hos­pi­tal space into ICU and high-care units.”

Mean­while, a team from the Univer­sity of Pre­to­ria’s (UP) Depart­ment of Sta­tis­tics in col­lab­o­ra­tion with other in­ter­na­tional uni­ver­si­ties has de­vel­oped what is be­lieved to be the first in­ter­ac­tive app in the coun­try that pro­vides real-time data on Covid-19 us­ing R-Shiny (a sta­tis­ti­cal soft­ware pack­age).

Pro­fes­sor An­driëtte Bekker, head of the Depart­ment of Sta­tis­tics, said:

“The power of this app is two-fold. It pro­duces down­load­able plots of Covid19 counts. There is also an in­ter­ac­tive set­ting whereby users can shift days since the first in­fec­tion on a scale and see how the data has changed.”

Andi Fried­man, co-founder of Mobenzi, a lo­cally de­vel­oped data col­lec­tion plat­form, said: “What will shop­ping malls and taxi ranks look like in two weeks time, for ex­am­ple? And how will the im­pact of un­ex­pected univer­sity and school clo­sures be felt in ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties if this is for a far more ex­tended pe­riod? What does the men­tal health of work­ers start look­ing like in a month if they’re all still based at home?

“South Africa has an op­por­tu­nity to start ad­dress­ing the so­cio-eco­nomic im­pact curve up­front, by col­lect­ing as much of this data as pos­si­ble so we can un­der­stand trends and pat­terns as and when they emerge,” said Fried­man.

THE Coron­aFighter app al­lows users to track Covid-19 symp­toms through sim­ple au­to­mated self-mon­i­tor­ing pro­cesses.

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