- WHO says contact-tracing apps like Aarogya Setu can be useful in the fight against coronavirus.
- WHO also notes that data collected through these apps should be used only to fight the diseases.
- Countries are creating contact-tracing apps but there are privacy concerns.
The World Health Organization has said that contact tracing Apps such as the Aarogya Setu have proved to be helpful in fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
Responding to a question by India Today during a press interaction, WHO executive director Dr Michael J Ryan said contact tracing Apps were very useful in the case of South Korea.
"It helps public authorities in many ways, in better planning their response, tracking and testing, as we saw in South Korea, often people once detected positive, face problems with remembering all their contacts but your phone remembers" Dr Ryan told India Today.
He said that different countries have different models of apps but the governments should make sure that the data should not be used for any other purpose.
"Each country has a different opt in or opt out process. It's important that governments make sure that the data should be used only for COVID-19 response," he added.
Asked if is there any evidence to prove that contact-tracing apps actually help in controlling the pandemic, the WHO leadership stressed that collecting the relevant and timely data during a pandemic is a big challenge and often different departments collect different set of data which takes a lot of time.
Technology can help solve a lot of these problems.
Dr Maria Van Kerkhove, the technical lead for the WHO, told India Today that the apps could help the health workers on ground.
"Overall contact tracing is such an important part, and since you asked specifically about contact tracing apps, these apps can supplement the work done by health workers on ground, who then have to physically visit these places, these workers don't necessarily have to be trained epidemiologist," she said.
India is using Aarogya Setu App for contact tracing and the app is now mandatory for working professionals who have to go out during the lockdown. The move has been criticised by privacy rights groups. The government has assured that it will soon make the source code of the App public, so that independent researchers can test the app for its privacy and safety.