Israel has rolled out a new smartphone app that alerts users if they have visited a location at the same time as an individual who has tested positive for Covid-19. The Israeli Ministry of Health released the app, called "Hamagen" (The Shield in English), for both Android and iOS devices on Sunday. The app allows users to identify whether or not they have come in contact with a coronavirus carrier in the 14 days (virus incubation period) prior to the patient's diagnosis of the virus, the ministry said in a statement, according to the Times of Israel.
"The application is a technological means intended to give each and every one of us the ability to accurately and immediately know if we were in contact with a person who was infected with the coronavirus," the statement said. "With this we can stop the spread of the disease and protect those closest to us."
How does it work?
The app works by collecting the GPS and SSID (Wi-Fi network) information of a user's mobile device throughout the day. The ministry also collects information simultaneously by interviewing coronavirus patients and asking them about their location history over the last two weeks. This information is then added to a JSON file that the app downloads every hour or so. The app then tracks the user's movements and compares the information with the Health Ministry data.
If the app finds a match, which means the user was in the same area at the same time as the infected individual, it alerts the user and directs them to the Health Ministry website for information on what to do next and how to register as going into self-quarantine. If you have not been exposed to any known Coronavirus patients, the app notifies you of this as well.
Coronavirus cases in Israel
The app has been released in Israel as authorities struggle to contain the spread of the virus in the country. The Health Ministry announced on Sunday that the country's total number of coronavirus cases had crossed 1,000 with 126 new cases. Israel now has a total of 1,071 official cases of COVID-19, including one death and 18 patients in critical condition, the ministry said.