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COVID-19 crisis: Aarogya Setu app now uses Bluetooth proximity feature to assess Coronavirus risk

Currently, this update has been released for Android OS only.

Aarogya Setu has now introduced a new feature that allows an app user to know of their Bluetooth contacts and enables them to assess their risk level for the COVID-19 pandemic. The Aarogya Setu app users need to update the application and click on ‘See Recent Contacts’ to get this information. This update as Aarogya Setu app now uses Bluetooth proximity has been released for Android OS, while the update for iOS phones will be released soon.

Mind you! Aarogya Setu uses contact tracing to record details of all the people you may have come in contact with, as you go about your normal activities. If any one of them, at a later point in time, tests positive for COVID-19, you are immediately informed and proactive medical intervention is arranged for you.

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However, the update issued by Aarogya Setu app will enable the user to assess the COVID-19 risk by seeing recent contacts. Some Bluetooth contacts can be for short durations during travel, some can be when the users have Masks on without any physical contact. Therefore, it is always important to take necessary precautions and monitor the Coronavirus symptoms one is witnessing.

Moreover, a recent tweet by Aarogya Setu Twitter handle has revealed that in case any app user’s status has been assessed as Moderate Risk or High Risk meaning the screen is Yellow or Orange, Aarogya Setu will also let them know date, time and approximate location as well as duration of such Bluetooth contact with someone who has been declared as the COVID-19 positive patient.

On clicking Aarogya Setu app, one will find out number of people with whom the app users have been in Bluetooth proximity and inform them eventually. To assess the coronavirus status, it will ask the app users’ permission to upload the data. After this, an app user will get information like, “We have captured 1 Aarogya Setu user’s contacts with you (through Bluetooth proximity since you installed the app or the last 30 days). Out of these the status of 1 is Low risk or Healthy.”

Aarogya Setu started with an idea of automatic contact tracing. Proximity logging within an app addresses a key limitation of manual contact tracing: it is dependent on a person’s memory and is therefore limited to the contacts that a person is acquainted with and remembers having met.

For COVID-19 contact tracing, there were two options to go with: Bluetooth or GPS. However, Bluetooth was chosen because it is able to classify close contacts with a significantly lower false-positive rate than GPS. Given that GPS accuracy decreases in indoor environments, entire shopping malls or skyscrapers would be within the margin of error of a single GPS point. The Aarogya Setu app makers have created an app which they claim can:

  • Can help us in tracing the nearby contacts through Bluetooth.
  • Consumes low battery power.
  • Performs continuous.
  • Is compatible with both Android and iOS.

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