The UAE’s Ministry of Health and Prevention (MOHAP) announced that it had launched a nationwide campaign on Wednesday, May 20, to urge all members of the community within the country to download the ALHOSN UAE Covid-19 tracing app.
ALHOSN, jointly developed by MOHAP and local health authorities and endorsed by the National Authority for Emergency and Crisis Management, requires users to activate the Bluetooth function on their smartphones.
That Bluetooth signal detects if they are in close proximity to people who have had contact with patients infected with the Covid-19 virus, provided that those individuals too have the same app downloaded on their phones.
Officials added that the app has already been downloaded by hundreds of thousands of people, and its effectiveness is dependent on as many people downloading it.
Once fully adopted, they said that ALHOSN could allow safe access of community members to public areas.
The ministry therefore urged every citizen and resident download the app.
Contact tracing works by identifying people who have come in contact with a person infected with Covid-19, even if they did not know they had it at the time, as is the case with asymptomatic cases.
These personal contacts of the Covid-19 patients are then notified and supported through a period of isolation and quarantine, during which they either develop symptoms or the period of risk passes.
The free app which is available in three languages including English, Arabic and Hindi on Google, Android and Huawei app stores, was developed in April and combined the functionalities of two previously released platforms including Stay HOME and TRACE COVID.
The ministry added that ALHOSN UAE has two key features, reported official news agency WAM.
It provides quick access to Covid-19 test results as well as contact tracing for rapid and accurate virus containment.
The app is also being updated to include a third function which is remote monitoring of quarantined individuals.
“ALHOSN is our fast-track ticket to curb the spread and our protective shield against any future pandemics. The app helps us protect ourselves by making it easier and faster for health authorities to notify us if we come in to contact with someone who has COVID-19. It also helps us protect our loved ones as the earlier we are notified then the more effectively we can protect those around us. And, finally, it protects our community by facilitating contact tracing on a national level, containing the spread of COVID-19 faster. This is a fight where our weapon is the unity of the UAE’s society and our shield is Alhosn,” said Dr. Farida Al Hosani, official spokesperson for the UAE health sector.
The app has taken into account privacy concerns that users might have when considering whether they should download it. Officials have added that it uses a decentralised model for contact tracing, in line with the recommendations of global privacy experts.
It was created using AI technology and has been designed to safeguard both an individual’s health and their privacy.
No personally identifiable information is collected during the process, and only if someone tests positive for Covid-19 will the health authorities ask for their consent to upload the list of anonymised IDs of all people they have come into contact with in the preceding 21 days.
“Technology speeds up every aspect of the contact-tracing process, from identifying and notifying contacts, to monitoring and support. But we cannot win this battle individually. Only through collective action can we contain the spread of COVID-19. By using Alhosn, we are protecting ourselves, our loved ones and our communities,” added Dr, Farida.
Contact tracing is one of the key directives of the World Health Organization to “Test. Treat. Track.” as an effective measure to prevent the spread of infectious diseases.