Cover photo: Left: PN MP Ivan Bartolo, Right: A COVID-19 symptom tracker app recently launched in the UK
Malta should develop a mobile app to track the spread of COVID-19 and assist the police in catching quarantine abusers, Opposition MP Ivan Bartolo has proposed.
Bartolo told Lovin Malta that this app could also be paired with high-tech wearables which would be able to detect people’s vital signs such as their temperature, a potential symptom of the coronavirus.
“If the authorities have access to this data, they’ll be able to monitor how the situation is developing,” he said. “If someone tests positive for the virus, this tool can also be used to track their movements over the past ten days so as to find out any people who were in the same proximity.”
Moreover, Bartolo said the app can include an alert system on the phones of people who are supposed to be in quarantine. As soon as the phone detects that its user has moved away from the proximity of their home, it can send an instant alert to the police.
The MP said that people who try to cheat the system by leaving their phones at home should be punished with fines of up to €20,000 or imprisonment.
With regards data protection concerns posed by GDPR laws, Bartolo said these extraordinary times can empower the government to be more “creative”, just as how it recently expanded the powers vested in the Superintendent of Public Health.
A number of countries have turned to high-tech solutions to curb the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus. Hong Kong and Taiwan are using surveillance bracelets to enforce quarantine rules, while Israel has recently approved the monitoring of mobile phones of patients who have tested positive for the virus.
Meanwhile, scientists and researches in the UK have developed an app (covid.joinzoe.com) which encourages people to self-report any symptoms on a daily basis, which will allow them to study the symptoms of COVID-19 and help the authorities track the spread of the virus.
What do you make of this proposal?