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Phone tracking of COVID-19 patients' contacts won't violate privacy - minister

Health Department tracer teams will be allowed to use the phone locations of people who have tested positive, to track down others they have come in contact with.

Picture: Supplied.

JOHANNESBURG - Government said it would be using the geolocations of people's cellphones in the fight against COVID-19.

Health Department tracer teams will be allowed to use the phone locations of people who have tested positive to track down others they have come in contact with.

But government is adamant this will not violate South Africans' privacy.

Government is turning to technology in its fight against the spread of the coronavirus.

The Health Department and its tracers will have the power to use cellphone locations in its testing programmes.

Communications Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams maintains it is above board.

“I just want to provide clarity that we do respect the fact that everyone has the right to privacy, but in a situation like this, our individual rights do not supersede the country’s rights.”

Justice Minister Ronald Lamola said they had processes in place to avoid abuses.

“There is going to be a weekly report from the director-general of the Department of Health to ensure that the information is used specifically as per regulations set out.”

Government insists all these measures are about protecting the country, not violating rights.

WATCH: COVID-19 Situation Desk - 2 April 2020 PM