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World Health Organization to launch coronavirus symptom-checking app

The World Health Organization (WHO) will soon be launching its own app for people to check their coronavirus symptoms, as reported by Reuters. The purpose is to provide information to people in countries that do not have the resources to create their own apps.

The app will ask users about their symptoms and offer an assessment of whether or not they may have coronavirus. It will also offer information on how to get tested which reflects local information for the user’s location.

As well as helping people to assess their own symptoms, the app may include contract tracing features. The WHO is reportedly considering whether or not to implement Bluetooth-based contact tracing, a technology for tracking which other people someone has come into contact with. An opt-in contact tracing system is currently being developed by Apple and Google, and contact tracing is already being used in parts of California and Utah, although it has proven controversial because of concerns about privacy.

Making it accessible

The WHO intends to release the app to the public, presumably on the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store. However, it will also make the code for the app available to world governments, so that they can take the app and adjust it to meet their own needs. It is expected to be useful in countries in Africa, where coronavirus cases are rising and not all governments have the resources to create their own apps.

The app will also be open source and made available on GitHub, so anyone can examine the code and create their own version of the app.

In addition to the app, the WHO also delivers information via WhatsApp and text messages for users who do not have access to the internet.

This app will join similar symptom checking apps and websites such as those by the Centers for Disease Control and Apple, and digital assistants including Amazon Alexa and Apple’s Siri which can give users advice on what to do if they think they have coronavirus symptoms.

For the latest updates on the novel coronavirus outbreak, visit the World Health Organization’s COVID-19 page.

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