DHAKA: Bangladesh has devised an app which allows people to check for symptoms of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) by uploading a chest X-ray, with test results available through artificial intelligence within minutes, officials told Arab News on Monday.
Posts, Telecommunications and Information Technology Minister Mustafa Jabbar said the app will be operated by state-run mobile telecom operator, Teletalk, and will also provide information about COVID-19 hotspots.
“Our technical team is working on fine tuning the app. It’s an extraordinary emergency situation and we all are working hurriedly to meet the emergency,” Jabbar told Arab News, adding that once fully operational, the app was “absolutely safe to use.”
The minister said: “People have nothing to worry about with regards to the safety of their personal data as it will be operated by the government and the data will be 100 percent protected.”
The app will work using bluetooth and location data, mimicking actions of other countries like China, South Korea and Germany.
Delwar Hossain Faruk, chairman of Radison Technologies — a telecoms company which developed the app and offered it at free of cost to the government — told Arab News: “A team of 30 experts from our company have worked around the clock over the last 15 days to develop the app. It will collect data of COVID-19 infected people in the country from the government’s disease control department and update the app constantly. Whenever people come into contact with any COVID-19 patients, the app will send notifications to the user and alert them.”
The app will use different colors — red, yellow and green — to identify three groups of people: Those infected with COVID-19, people in quarantine and the healthy.
“The app will help people and the authorities ensure home quarantine as law enforcement agencies will now be able to monitor people from their offices,” Faruk said.
Jabbar said: “The accuracy level will be more than 90 percent. Singapore has had good success through this process.”
However experts said that people should use lab tests for a confirmed diagnosis.
“This app will be good for people who don’t have any other respiratory diseases. But people with asthma and other respiratory problems can’t fully rely on any COVID-19 test based on artificial intelligence,” Dr. Ayesha Akther, assistant director of the health emergency operation center of the Directorate General of Health Services, told Arab News.
Bangladesh has identified 123 COVID-19 patients. Twelve have died.