The Public Health Authority in Seychelles has launched an app that it says will revolutionize the way COVID-19 contact tracing is done in the island nation.
The newly approved ‘Contak’ mobile application was developed by local company Space-95 in partnership with the Department of Information Communication Technology (DICT) and Seychelles Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI) to facilitate contact-tracing activities, keep track of and control the COVID-19 situation.The QR code-based tracing application is free of charge and allows a user to register places they have been, facilitating the work of contact tracers at the Public Health Authority.Public Health Commissioner Jude Gedeon launched ‘Contak’ in a short ceremony at the Sheikh Khalifa Diagnostic Center of the Seychelles Hospital on Friday.The app can be downloaded by both individuals and organisations. It is a secure way to store information about persons with whom an individual has close contact, and places visited for contact-tracing purposes when needed.
The QR code-based tracing application is free of charge and allows a user to register places they have been, facilitating the work of contact tracers at the Public Health Authority. (Joena Meme, Seychelles Nation) Photo License: CC BY
After downloading the application, one can simply register, and use the app to scan the QR code found on posters displayed at different venues, to save a log to the diary on the application. If ever the individual tests positive, the diary is consulted, making the contact-tracing process much easier for the surveillance team. The Chief Operations Officer of Space 95, Andy Noel, said that scanning QR codes at all venues a person accesses are important. “If you are found to be positive with COVID-19, one simply needs to go to the app and upload the diary to the health agency using Wi-Fi or internet data. This information is uploaded to a server at DICT (Department of Information, Technology and Communication), allowing the relevant authority to access the information. Someone who has scanned the same poster the same time as you will receive an alert, letting them know that they are potential contacts,” said Noel. Noel explained during a presentation that there are three ways to use the app – scanning QR codes at the entrance of a venue, having the attendant scan your app-generated QR code or the scanning of a friend’s or colleagues that you meet or come into contact with regularly.
Noel explained during a presentation that there are three ways to use the app (Space 95) Photo License: CC BY
The company which has donated the app to the Ministry of Health said that ‘Contak’ is Space 95’ gift to Seychelles – 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean. According to its Chief Executive Officer, Bernard Moutia, SPACE 95 reached an important milestone – it turned 25 – in 2020 but due to the pandemic, all celebrations had to be cancelled. “We nevertheless thought that we needed to show solidarity to the people of Seychelles during this difficult year, so we came with the idea to help the health authority, help the workers and make their lives easier and to use technology to do this,” explained Moutia. While launching the app, Gedeon said that the app will work as the vaccine “with more people being vaccinated it becomes more effective. The app is also like this, the more people who use this, who download it and uses it, the more our contact tracing will become more efficient. We are asking people, not to hesitate, to download it and each place they go, scan the QR code and improve our contact tracing.”