Prime: Covid-19 tracking apps will allow the public to run free


The Prime Minister of Latvia Krišjānis Kariņš.

The Prime Minister of Latvia Krišjānis Kariņš.

Photo: Evija Trifanova / LETA

Mobile applications being developed to track Covid-19 patients and contacts are a way for the public to be released, Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš (JV) told a regional media conference on Friday.

Commenting on the possibility to provide more information on possible sites of infection in local governments, the Prime Minister said that the police are already carrying out extensive inspections of quarantined and also contact persons, hundreds of times every day.

Penalties in Latvia for violating epidemiological safety rules are also quite severe, he emphasized.

Currently, Latvian companies are developing two applications that could help ensure this control, thus saving police resources, Kariņš said. Apps could be ready in late May or early June.

“This is the way I see how we will be able to release society in Latvia and Europe, because we each have a portable protector in our pockets,” commented Kariņš.

He said one app is for quarantined people to find out if they are at home.

The second, on the other hand, will work on a voluntary basis and will use mobile data to identify contact persons. Kariņš emphasized that it was not a people, but a program for tracking disease contacts.

A similar solution is being worked elsewhere in Europe and in the European Commission to ensure the ability to track contacts across Europe, and “when you go outside Latvia, you would be protected and informed as well as in Latvia”. It is not known at this time when this solution will be available.

The Prime Minister also emphasized at the press conference that social distancing and hand washing will continue to be the daily routine of the society.

“It simply came to our notice then. Not scary, but cautious, ”said Kariņš.

LETA has already reported that information and communication technology (ICT) companies plan to develop a mobile application for identifying Covid-19 contacts in accordance with the requirements of epidemiologists.

The application will be a practical and secure ICT solution that will significantly support the epidemiologists of the Center for Disease Prevention and Control (SPKC), allowing more efficient identification of patient contacts. Residents will need to install the app on a smart device so that it can communicate with other devices that have the app via Bluetooth signals about two meters away.

The app will exchange encrypted data, so contacts will appear anonymously in the app.

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However, if a resident becomes ill with the Covid-19 virus, he will be issued a special code, which will have to be entered into the application. As you enter the code, a mechanism will execute that will locally try to understand if this device has been in contact. The data will be stored in the app for 14 days, after which it will be deleted automatically. The app will be owned by SPKC.

Andris Bērziņš, co-founder of LMT, Mak IT, TestDevLab, Zippy Vision, ITcentrs and the non-governmental organization TechHub Riga, is participating in the development of the application from the business sector. Support from academics and the state is provided by the President and the Chancellery of the President, SPKC, the Ministry of Health, the DSI, NATO StratCom and the University of Latvia. The digital communication partners are Nord DDB Riga, Deep White, Wrong and Mobilly.


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