JEDDAH: With a continued rise in the number of COVID-19 infections, a new mobile app has been launched to help people in Saudi Arabia identify cases in close proximity in order to protect themselves and help curb the spread of the virus.
The Saudi Authority for Data and Artificial Intelligence, in cooperation with the Ministry of Health, launched Tabaud (Distancing) to notify people in crowded areas of individuals who have contracted COVID-19 in the last 14 days.
“Users can share their information and then contact those he or she came into contact with,” said ministry spokesman Dr. Mohammed Al-Abd Al-Aly, urging people to download the app.
“The people who came into contact with the infected person will receive an anonymous notification that will ask them to get an early detection exam.”
Tabaud is a means to notify people of infected individuals by sending encrypted data to smartphones running the app, identifying people who have contracted the virus with information about their devices, according to regulations endorsed by Google and Apple, with full protection of users’ privacy.
Upon downloading Tabaud, Bluetooth technology can detect nearby smartphones that also operate the app, determine the distance, and notify users of potential danger in order to take the necessary precautionary steps.
Saudi Arabia’s R0 infection rating is between 1.5 and 2, according to the ministry. Above 1, each infection among the population causes more than one new COVID-19 case.
“The infection rate decreased to below 1 in May, but it … increased in recent days, which indicates the virus is spreading due to mixing with COVID-19-infected individuals,” the spokesman said.
“The rate could increase (further) if society doesn’t adhere to instructions, especially if they’re surrounded by people,” he added.
“It’s in our hands. We can be responsible and return to our lives with caution by picking up health-conscious behaviors, and the rate will go down again and reach the desired outcome.”
A total of 4,233 new cases of COVID-19 were recorded in the Kingdom on Sunday, meaning 127,541 people in Saudi Arabia have contracted the disease. There are 41,849 active cases, 1,855 of them critical.
With 2,172 new cases of recovery announced, the total number of recoveries is 84,720. Forty new deaths were reported, raising the death toll to 972.
The spokesman stressed that hospital emergency rooms are always ready to receive not only critical cases of COVID-19, but also any other health emergency.