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UK-based tech firm launches Africa’s first contact tracing text based tool

HARARE (The Southern African Times) – Two Zimbabwean entrepreneurs have developed a self-help app as part of the response to the Covid-19 outbreak. 

TextAid, which enables medical and health insurance providers to deliver optimal health outcomes for patients with chronic conditions, now has a functionality that assists with contact tracing to stop the spread of the virus. 

There are more than 27,600 confirmed cases of coronavirus across Africa, with a number of African countries imposing a range of lockdown measures to curb the spread of the virus that has killed more than 300,000 people worldwide. 

According to the latest data by the John Hopkins University and Africa Center for Disease Control on Covid-19 in Africa, the breakdown is not conclusive as countries confirm cases as and when. 

The whole of Africa has rising cases, with Zimbabwe confirming approximately 279 cases and several deaths. The app will allow the identification of those who are, or have potentially been infected, and will provide information and helpful tips on what to do and how to protect themselves and the public.

Munyaradzi Hoto, co-founder of TextAid said: “Contact tracing is an essential measure to fight the ongoing coronavirus epidemic.” Hoto said that the team’s ambition is to eradicate complications from poor health management or delays in people getting treated.

“The rigorous application of contact tracing measures during this period when only sporadic cases are being observed can reduce further transmission and have a major impact on the spread of the outbreak,” Hoto said. 

Contact-tracing apps are based on the principle that people’s smartphones can be used to log when two people are in close enough proximity for long enough that there’s a high risk of contagion if one of them has coronavirus.

Amos Kapishe, co-founder of TextAid added: “Service providers do not have the data and tools to provide more efficient and effective healthcare and we hope, by combining the use of TextAid, with other measures – including manual contact tracing by humans and frequent handwashing – the hope is that the spread of the disease can be curbed.” 

Kundai Vambe, lead business consultant said: “This is a groundbreaking project and a major step in helping fight Covid-19. It is no small feat and we are happy to have worked closely with the TextAid team to launch this test and trace support tool.

“We all need to play our part and together we can help contain the virus, stop it spreading further, and save lives.”

Covid-19 is an infectious disease caused by the novel coronavirus that broke out in Wuhan China in December 2019. Most people infected with the virus will experience mild to moderate respiratory illness and most will recover without requiring special treatment. ​

There are more than 6,789,210 confirmed cases globally and 396,190 deaths. The outbreak, which spread from the Hubei province to more than 180 countries and territories since late January has affected every continent except Antarctica. Efforts to prevent the pneumonia-like illness from spreading further have led to nationwide lockdowns, flight cancellations, dips in the financial markets and economic crisis. 

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