Contact tracing using mobile phones

Venky Krishnan, TIFR CAM

[General illustration of Contact Tracing based off of CDC-material. CREDIT - CFCF, CDC]

In order to arrest the spread of a pandemic such as the one caused  by SARS-CoV-2 (the novel coronavirus), rapid deployment of tools such as contact tracing, physical distancing, and quarantine measures is extremely important. It is even more so in the case of this virus as recent research has shown that contribution to the basic reproduction number (the average number of new individuals that an infected person can spread the disease to) from presymptomatic individuals (infected individuals capable of transmission before they experience noticeable symptoms) is high. In this context, digital technology, more specifically smartphones, has turned out to be an excellent tool as it helps governments access a large population in quick time. Apps such as Arogya Setu developed by the Government of India and  others developed elsewhere in the world [2,3] use bluetooth and GPS features of the smartphone to instantly notify individuals in the contact list of an infected individual as well as other users of the app who have been in close proximity to an infected individual to immediately undertake self-quarantine measures.

[Last update 11 May 2020]