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WHO’s Coronavirus App May Feature Bluetooth-Based Contact Tracing

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The World Health Organization (WHO) is planning to launch an app later this month that will allow people across the globe to assess whether they may have the novel Coronavirus, Reuters is reporting. According to Bernardo Mariano, the WHO’s chief information officer, the app may also feature Bluetooth-based contact tracing.

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Mariano told the publication that the app will ask people about their symptoms and offer guidance on whether they may have COVID-19, while also offering country-specific information on how to get tested.

The app will be released on the app stores all over the world, with governments allowed to take the app’s underlying technology, add features, and release their own versions.

The WHO expects its app to draw interest in other countries, including some in South America and Africa where case numbers are rising. They may lack the technology and engineers to develop apps or be struggling to offer testing and education.

“The value is really for countries that do not have anything,” Mariano said. “We would be leaving behind the ones that are not able to (provide an app), that have fragile health systems.”

Mariano said the WHO wants to include additional tools to the app beyond the symptom checker, including a self-help guide for mental health care.

WHO Engineers have also “talked to smartphone operating system makers Apple Inc and Google about possibly adopting technology the companies plan to release jointly this month to make tracing easier,” adds Reuters.

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