Tunisia start-up launches virus-tracking app

markus spiske 3 SvgDspSTE unsplashA Tunisian start-up specialising in digital marketing tools for foreign companies has launched a mobile phone contact tracing app that identifies and alerts users who may have had contact with others infected with coronavirus

The E7mi application is available on Android and awaiting validation for Apple’s iOS.

Like the French StopCovid application, E7mi - Arabic for ‘protect’ - is not based on Apple or Google contact tracing technology.

If a user tests positive for COVID-19, Tunisia’s Observatory of Emerging Diseases (ONME) will contact other users whose telephones were detected near the device of the infected user.

Akil Agati, head of the Wizz Labs start-up behind the app, said, “We started in March when we heard about the TraceTogether app in Singapore, but we wanted to do something suitable for Tunisia.”

“Users will not report themselves infected, to avoid false alarms, and users who have been notified of being in contact with a sick person will also receive a phone call from the ONME so there can be follow-up,” he said.

Bassem Kchaou, health ministry official, said, “We have been faster than many other countries in launching such an app. In France, the government plans to launch its StopCovid app on June 2. Tunisia's health ministry approved E7mi after three weeks of testing. An awareness campaign will encourage people to install the application, but if download rates remain low, we may change our strategy.”

Personal data will be archived under the control of the National Personal Data Protection Authority for 14 days, and will only be used by ONME to contact people about coronavirus.

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