Govt. coronavirus app will alert when out of bounds

Govt. coronavirus app will alert when out of bounds
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Govt. still exploring monitoring bracelets to help track quarantine breachers 

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The government’s coronavirus (COVID-19) app will have a tracking element that will alert when quarantined individuals step outside set virtual boundaries, Minister of Health Dr Duane Sands said today.

Speaking outside of Cabinet, Sands advised that along with the new app, the government is also exploring monitoring bracelets to keep track of individuals who may breach home quarantine and isolation guidelines.

“The app that we have chosen has the ability to create a virtual boundary, and if you go beyond that boundary it sets off an alarm,” Sands explained to reporters.

“If you travel to an area like a food store, a pharmacy, a bar; that can be preloaded into the software, so that we know where people are.”

He continued: “Clearly this is an intrusion into persons’ liberty and we are very cognizant of this.

“We have issues of the innocent suffering for the guilty because the overwhelming majority of people abide by the rules.

“And so, we understand also that some people will decide to leave their phones at home and go out into the community, so there are other alternative.”

Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis announced yesterday that individuals in quarantine who breach the self-quarantine requirements could be fined $20,000 and/or imprisoned for five years.

The prime minister underscored the concerns of health officials, who have bemoaned instances of non-compliance among those quarantined.

Minnis said officials have tested the new app to optimize the intent of quarantine, and to simultaneously enhance support and monitoring.

By downloading the app, quarantined and isolated individuals can use their cellphones in a manner similar to a walkie-talkie, he said.

The Progressive Liberal Party’s COVID-19 task force has continuously called on the government to partner with local telecommunications providers to develop a cell phone app that would track individuals in quarantine or isolation at home.

The task force has echoed concerns that too many people in self-quarantine were not following the protocols and still interacting with the public, promoting the spread of the virus.

It called for the mandatory government isolation of all positive COVID-19 patients, and outlined recommendations to boost contact tracing efforts, including partnering with telecommunication providers in the country to provide technology and infrastructure to assist monitoring efforts.

As of yesterday, there were 792 people in quarantine in government facilities or at home.

The number of cases of COVID-19 stands at 80.