Self-screening for COVID-19? There's an app for that

A new app developed right here in South Africa has made it easy for you to self-screen in your own private space.

Picture: Supplied

JOHANNESBURG - As South Africa eases the levels of lockdown amid the coronavirus pandemic, caution and prevention are of utmost importance while out in public. One way to do this is to regularly screen individuals for any signs of possible infection.

A new app developed right here in South Africa has made it easy for you to self-screen in your own private space.

Developed by technology company, Howler, Keep.Out.Covid is a simple app and suite of tools that helps with temperature checks, symptom diagnosis, information collection and the flagging of employees that are at risk of having COVID-19. The app is free to download, and is data free during use.

“Over the past few weeks, hundreds and thousands of tests have been done by government to determine the infection rate and most importantly try and flatten the curve," said Tahl Evian, who developed the app.

"Through Keep.Out.Covid, South Africans will get to ‘screen’ themselves from the comfort of their home, fill in the symptoms questionnaire and instantly be notified if they are at risk or not,

“This will help lessen the burden on our healthcare system, flag those who are showing symptoms and ensure that those that are going into the workplace can be checked and verified on entry."

An infrared non-contact thermometer captures temperature onsite and matches them in real-time to successful screenings conducted before arrival.

A closed database collects an individual’s screening and temperature information in real-time. Reports are made available daily to the designated manager or on request by authorities.

The app gives you an indication if you are displaying certain COVID-19 related systems and help with early detection. If a screening is failed, a further risk assessment is required. Based on the assessment, the user will be advised whether a test or quarantine is required.

Howler has partnered up with private GP practices and nurses from around the country who have capacity due to a reduction in visiting patients due to lockdown restrictions. Once an organisation signs on, Keep.Out.Covid pairs users with an appropriate practitioner.

If the organisation you belong to is linked to a practitioner, the practitioner will be notified via email or SMS to contact you and do a follow-up risk assessment consultation. This will be to determine if you are at risk and what the next steps are. Failing the screening does not mean you have COVID-19, but rather indicates if you might be at risk.

"Your data is stored in a database and available to your assigned organisation in the event they need to prove that you were screened. When you arrive at your organisation, your successful screening is scanned so we know where you entered and exited from. If we then become aware of a positive case from your organisation or any organisation you went to, we are able to use your data to notify you of the occurrence," Evian said.

At this stage, the app's results are not passed on to the Health Department, however, it is available to the authorities if they wish to understand the trends.

"The more people that use the system, the more we can gather trends and understand where the hotspots are and understand where rising temperatures are taking place," the company said.