New Zealand To Pilot Early Covid-19 Detection App On Border Workers
The app uses smartwatch data to alert users to possible Covid-19 two or three days before the onset of symptoms.
ToplineNew Zealand will test an app that uses smartwatch data to catch Covid-19 days before a diagnosis, health officialsThursday, making New Zealand the first government to launch a pilot with the technology.Representative Image: A pilot program in New Zealand plans to use smartwatch data to alert users to
... [+]possible Covid-19 two or three days before the onset of symptoms.Getty ImagesKey FactsUp to 500 border workers voluntarily participate in the month-long pilot using elarm, an app created by New Zealand-based AI company Datamine that claims it can catch Covid-19 two or three days before the onset of symptoms, Datamine CEO Paul O’Connor told
Forbes,with 83% accuracy.The app collects heart rate, respiration rate and body temperature data from Fitbits, Apple Watches and other wearables, and then uses artificial intelligence to pick up slight changes in those metrics that may indicate a person is sick. headtopics.com
Border workers were chosen for the pilot because New Zealand has practically eliminated community spread within the country, making frontline staff who interact with travelers more vulnerable than the rest of the populationPrime Minister Jacinda Ardern
wants all border workers to get vaccinated by the end of April—especially after two cases were linked this month to an unvaccinated border worker—but even after that, the ministry of health sees elarm as “another layer of protection” against new variants and the fact that vaccines are not 100% effective, O’Connor said.
Crucial Quote“If the elarm app lives up to its potential, it might provide early notification to our critical border workforce if they’re becoming unwell. That means they can take appropriate action such as self-isolating and being tested for COVID-19,” Shayne Hunter, deputy director-general of data and digital at New Zealand’s Ministry of Health said in a statement. “Even though our border workers are vaccinated, the reality is that some people will still feel unsure about the increased risk of exposure to COVID-19 from working on the border.”Read more: Forbes »
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