Aarogya Setu is among ‘tried-and-tested public health tools’: WHO’s praise for app

The World Health Organization (WHO) has said India’s Aarogya Setu contact tracing app for the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) has helped authorities in the second-worst hit country identify clusters and expand testing in those areas.

WHO director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said during a media briefing that the government has been using it to notify users about the Covid-19 infections across the country. “Aarogya Setu app from India has been downloaded by 150 million users, and has helped city public health departments to identify areas where clusters could be anticipated and expand testing in a targeted way,” Ghebreyesus said on Monday.

Tedros made the comments as he spoke about digital technologies that are helping to make these “tried-and-tested public health tools even more effective, such as mobile applications to support contact tracing efforts.”

Also read | Aarogya Setu’s new feature to help businesses function during Covid-19 pandemic: Govt

The global health body’s director general also mentioned Germany’s Corona-Warn app, which he said has been used to transmit 1.2 million test results from labs to users in its first 100 days. More than 2,700 people in Denmark have been tested for Covid-19 as a result of notifications received through a mobile application and the United Kingdom has rolled out a new version of its NHS Covid-19 app, which had more than 10 million downloads within the first week, he added.

“WHO is working with the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control to help countries evaluate the effectiveness of their digital contact tracing apps. This is just one example of the innovative measures countries are taking to control Covid-19,” Ghebreyesus said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had launched the Aarogya Setu app in April when the country was going through the first phase of nationwide lockdown to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease. The Aarogya Setu app has been developed by the National Informatics Centre (NIC) of the ministry of electronics and information technology.

The mobile phone-based contact-tracing application meant to identify people with Covid-19 has been criticised by privacy experts for collecting excessive amounts of data.

India’s Covid-19 tally stands at 7,175,880 and its death toll has climbed to 1,09,856, according to the Union health ministry dashboard on Tuesday morning.

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