The Chinese government has launched an app to track coronavirus

Wednesday, 12th February 2020, 12:32 pm
Updated Wednesday, 12th February 2020, 3:15 pm

The Chinese Government has launched a 'close detection' app that will alert users if they are near someone displaying symptoms of coronavirus.

Officially named Covid-19, the deadly disease has infected over 40,000 people and killed 1,000 since New Year celebrations.

Since originating in the city of Wuhan in central China, the Chinese Government has been in the international spotlight. It has been commended by the WHO for its fast action and cooperation with the world during this outbreak. One system it had in place is utilising the thing we carry with us every day - our smartphones.

How does an app stop a disease?

The app uses a QR code that intercepts commonly used Chinese apps such as Alipay, WeChat, or QQ to see if you have come into close contact with someone showing symptoms of the virus.

Chinese State Media, Xinhua, claimed "After registering with a phone number, users need to enter their name and [government-issued national] ID number to know whether they were in close contact with someone infected."

If you have been in close contact, the Chinese government urges you to stay at home and contact local health authorities.

This means if you are near someone who works, goes to school, or even lives with a a suspected carrier then you must follow the protocol. This also includes contact with medical staff, passengers and crew on public transport.

A country under surveillance

Although this is an incredible piece of technology and extremely helpful as this disease spreads - it also sheds light on how regulated the Chinese population is by their government.

China does not openly share information about its surveillance and there are many human rights allegations made against the country.

However, this technology is not seen as that controversial, considering its apparent benefits in stopping the spread of Covid-19. At time of writing, 8 people in the UK have been confirmed as infected with the illness.