The government, on Friday, made the Aarogya Setu App mandatory for people living in the coronavirus Containment Zones inside the 130 districts identified as the Red Zones. The government considers the App to be a handy coronavirus containment tool which can be used to assess the level of risk an individual is exposed to viz a viz Covid-19 infection. The App, developed by the ministry of electronics and information technology (MEITY), uses cell phone tracking technology to put individuals in low-risk, moderate and high-risk categories by tracing if the person came in contact with a virus-infected patient or a person suspected to be infected.
The government notification released on May 1, which announced the extension of the national lockdown by another two weeks beginning May 4, divides the 733 districts across the country into three zones—Red, Orange and Green—based on the risk of further spread of the virus and specifies graded restrictions for each of the zones. Most restrictions apply to Red Zones that house Containment Zones or virus hotspots, which have to face the maximum restrictions including on movement outside one’s home.
“The most sensitive areas of the country, from the spread of COVID-19 point of view, and falling within the Red and Orange Zones, are designated as Containment Zones. These are areas where there is a significant risk of spread of the infection.,” says the government notification.
The compulsory use of Aarogya Setu application will help the authorities monitor the status of each individual in the containment zone from a distance and will allow it to take necessary and timely action including quarantining or home isolation of suspected cases, if necessary.
“The local authority shall ensure 100% coverage of Aarogya Setu app among the residents of the Containment Zone,” the latest government guidelines state.
It also makes it clear that the Containment Zones would see the implementation of additional surveillance protocols including contact tracing, house to house surveillance and home or institutional quarantining.
“Strict perimeter control would need to be ensured, so that there is no movement of people in and out of these Zones, except for medical emergencies, and for maintaining the supply of essential goods and services. No other activity is permitted within the Containment Zones,” the latest notification says.
It adds that the containment areas would be defined by respective district administrations taking into account the total number of active cases, their geographical spread, and the need for well-demarcated perimeters for the enforcement of containment measures, says the government.
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The application in Containment Zone is the second instance of the government’s use of the Aarogya Setu App as a necessary containment tool. Earlier, a news agency reported that it had instructed all government staff to download the App and check their risk status every day before reporting to work. They were advised to not report to work if the App indicates that they are in the moderate or the high-risk category.
The App will continue to play an important role in the containment efforts as all government offices will resume work from May 4 with limited manpower—up to 33% of the total strength, barring senior officials who will be required to be present in full strength.