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