Czechs test 'smart quarantine' to curb virus impact


Women keeping a social distance sunbathe at the Old Town Square as the spread of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) continues in Prague, Czech Republic. The solution offered by the Covid19cz group of computer experts uses data from the mobile phones and bank cards of people diagnosed with coronavirus to trace their movement with their consent. — Reuters

PRAGUE: Czech authorities are testing a new IT system to quickly trace back the contacts of those infected with coronavirus to curb the spread, a spokeswoman said on March 31.

The solution offered by the Covid19cz group of computer experts uses data from the mobile phones and bank cards of people diagnosed with coronavirus to trace their movement with their consent.

"It generates a memory map showing... for instance that a man spent half an hour at the corner of two streets," Covid19cz spokeswoman Irena Zatloukalova told AFP.

"The public health officer can ask if the person visited or met someone to identify other people who may be infected. People won't have to merely rely on their memory when they recall what they were doing over the last two weeks."

Under the so-called smart quarantine system, which is being tested in a southeastern Czech region, the contacts will then be put in a short quarantine of a maximum of three days until they undergo Covid-19 tests.

"If they test negative, they can return to everyday life. If they test positive, they will go into full quarantine," deputy health minister Roman Prymula said on the government website.

Prime Minister Andrej Babis said he would like to have the system in place nationwide by April 12.

The EU country of 10.7 million people has registered 3,002 confirmed cases of the virus, including 24 deaths.

Earlier this month, the government closed all schools, pubs, theatres and most shops and shuttered the borders.

"Owing to the system, we won't all have to end up in quarantine, only those who are really sick or potentially endangered," said Zatloukalova.

She said the Covid19cz group has registered interest in the IT solution from Britain, Lithuania, Serbia, Slovakia, but also Latin American countries. – AFP

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