SA’s new Covid-19 exposure notification app, Covid Alert SA, is finally up and running, seven months after the first positive case of Covid-19 was announced in South Africa.
It was added to the Department of Health's arsenal in the fight against the pandemic to help prevent the second wave of the virus.
It uses contact tracing technology to let you know whenever you come in close contact with someone who has tested positive for the virus.
So, what is contact tracing?
According to the Department of Health, contact tracing is a process that is used to slow the spread of infectious diseases such as Covid-19.
“Covid Alert SA makes contact tracing happen quickly and efficiently. This app helps us to work together to stop the spread of Covid-19 using Bluetooth contact-tracing technology – which simply tracks close contact (proximity) between smartphones and not the actual location of the smartphones.”
The app’s success depends almost entirely on its users, though. It helps people who have contracted Covid-19 to identify their ‘close contacts’ (anyone they have been in direct contact with over the past 14 days and have possibly infected as a result).
Identifying other potentially infected people manually would be nearly impossible without the help of this technology, especially if you’ve been to different public places.
Who can use it?
If you live in South Africa and have a Bluetooth-enabled smartphone, you’ll be able to download and use the app.
Will my privacy be protected?
Yes, Covid-19 Alert SA is entirely anonymous. The app protects your privacy and security at all times. It does not use or store any of your personal information.
Who will benefit by using this app?
By using the COVID Alert SA app, you become a part of a powerful digital network of South Africans who work together to stop the spread of the virus while also enjoying complete privacy and anonymity.
You’ll always be in-the-know with the latest updates straight from the department of health and have the peace of mind knowing that, if you come in contact with a confirmed infected patient, you’ll be notified immediately so you can take the necessary steps to protect yourself and your family.
Let’s all work together to stop the spread of Covid-19 and ultimately save thousands of lives. You can make a difference, so add your phone to the fight.
What else do you need to know?
- Standard data costs apply when you download the COVID Alert SA app.
- The app’s download size is under 3 MB.
- It’s free and does not feature in-app purchases.
How the app works
- Once installed, the COVID Alert SA app runs in the background.
- Note that for the app to work, Bluetooth and notifications must be enabled, and you’ll need access to a mobile or Wi-Fi network to send and receive exposure alerts.
- Your device will anonymously connect with others when your smartphones are within 2 metres of each other for more than 15 minutes.
- Think of it as the devices giving each other a digital handshake. The random codes exchanged at the time of the ‘digital handshake’ are stored in a log on each phone for two weeks.
- Keep in mind that at no stage of this process will your identity and location be needed to make this happen.
- The only thing that the app tracks are how close two devices are to one another and how long they are in contact.
- If an app user contracts Covid-19, they can anonymously report this on the app which will then upload the random codes that the device has collected over the past two weeks to the Exposure Notification Server.
- From there, these random codes are sent to all of the other app users. Each device runs through these random codes, comparing it with the ones they have collected for over two weeks to look for a match.
If one is found, the device will let the user know that they have potentially been exposed to Covid-19 which allows them to take the necessary steps from there.
What’s in it for you?
As an app user you will be able to:
- Understand your Covid-19 exposure risk when you receive a notification.
- Know what to do if you have been in contact with someone infected. People who have been potentially exposed to Covid-19 can choose to self-quarantine and; therefore, help to limit the further spread of the virus. The app also helps you to monitor your symptoms and access healthcare if you need it.
- Keep your loved ones and those in your wider community safe – especially those who are considered to be at a higher risk for severe illness if they become infected.
- Ultimately you will help to stop the second wave of infection in South Africa, thereby protecting the country's healthcare services and its vulnerable people, by ending the pandemic.
In a nutshell
The app does
- keep the identity of its users private
- ensure the user's safety
The app does not:
- use GPS to track your location
- ask you for your name, surname or other identifying details
- need access to contacts on your phone
- have access to your health information
Watch the video explaining how the app works.
Downloading the app for FREE here:
For Android devices, download it from Google Playstore
For Apple Devices, download it from the Apple App Store