Smartphone app tracks COVID-19 patients under quarantine in West Bank

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A Palestinian policeman speaks to a driver at a checkpoint at the entrance of the West Bank city of Nablus, March 23, 2020. Palestinian authorities on Sunday declared a 14-day lockdown on the West Bank as part of measures to combat the spread of coronavirus pandemic. Prime Minister Mohammed Ishtaye announced a ban on transportation and movement between the West Bank districts, urging citizens to stay at home. (Photo by Nidal Eshtayeh/Xinhua)
A Palestinian policeman speaks to a driver at a checkpoint at the entrance of the West Bank city of Nablus, March 23, 2020. Palestinian authorities on Sunday declared a 14-day lockdown on the West Bank as part of measures to combat the spread of coronavirus pandemic. Prime Minister Mohammed Ishtaye announced a ban on transportation and movement between the West Bank districts, urging citizens to stay at home. (Photo by Nidal Eshtayeh/Xinhua)

Authorities in the southern West Bank district of Hebron have developed a smartphone application to track Palestinians infected with COVID-19.

After the recorded patients download the app on their smartphones, the cyber team members can follow their movement within a specific area around the clock.”We follow the patients depending on a comprehensive database. If anyone violates the home quarantine, the app will issue a warning and send a written message,” said Ibrahim Ahmarou, security officer of the cyber team.”If the patients repeat the violation of the quarantine, the cyber team members will contact the working teams in the field who will find the patients and implement the law,” added Ahmarou. “We started to implement the system according to the international criteria and in coordination with legal advisors specialized in cyber work,” said Abu Tareq, another senior security officer and director of the cyber team.

Mohammed al-Sweiti, director of operations in the preventive security service in Hebron, said experts also put into consideration the privacy under the supervision of legal advisors when developing the application.During the past three weeks, the Palestinian health ministry has recorded hundreds of new COVID-19 cases every day in Hebron which is home to half a million Palestinians.Palestinian Minister of Health Mai al-Keileh warned several days ago that if the population fail to abide by the precautionary measures, the health ministry will lose control of the spread of the deadly virus in Hebron.”The situation of the pandemic is not under control at all because it is spreading in more than one spot and people don’t follow up social distancing,” she said.

The Palestinian health ministry recorded on Friday 439 new COVID-19 cases in the West Bank, raising the total number of cases in its territories to 9,056, including 55 deaths and 1,666 recoveries.The new cases were found in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, including 319 in the southern West Bank district of Hebron.

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