In an effort to combat the spread of misinformation regarding the novel coronavirus, the World Health Organisation is launching an official app for iOS and Android.
The WHO MyHealth app is set to be launched on Monday and is being developed by a team of volunteer experts called the WHO Covid App Collective.
The first version will launch on both mobile platforms on Monday and is being developed ‘open source’ which means anyone with the skills can help build it.
It follows the launch of a WHO chatbot for Facebook owned WhatsApp that lets users get the latest information on the deadly virus.
The WHO app will send users notifications for their location if there is a spike in coronavirus cases or if someone reports themselves as having the virus.
According to the WHO MyHealth Github page, there will also be ‘self-triage’ tools to help people diagnose whether their symptoms match COVID-19.
The goal of the app development team is to ‘build an Official WHO app for COVID-19 on Android, iPhones and the web, targeted at the general public.
‘We plan to operate in a self sufficient manner for reasons of speed and to minimise impositions on precious WHO resources.’
It also plans to have a web-based version of the app for people without a smartphone to make sure it can reach the widest possible group.
Other features for the first version of the app include locations of nearby testing and treatment centres, local risk areas and public awareness information.
The group says the aim is to ‘combat misinformation and confusion’ by providing information that has been vetted by WHO and the CDC.
They also want to help people perform their own triage on symptoms to lighten the load on national health services and offer a heat map of areas affected by the virus.
In their proposal document the team said: ‘There is an urgent, global need for an official WHO App to help contain and mitigate COVID-19.
‘The app should support the WHO efforts and be available on a worldwide basis, with information tailored to the user’s location, culture and language.
‘The app should also be sensitive to national needs and respect privacy.
‘Once established, the system can be leveraged to proactively detect, respond early and prevent future pandemics.’
Over time the group who to further develop the app to include features that use iPhone and Android location history to ‘contact trace’.
The feature would allow WHO to better track the spread of the virus by looking at who has had it and who they have come into contact with.
The first early version of the app will be for individuals – non-healthcare providers or public health experts and only available for Android and iOS.
It will be available in English, French, Chinese, Spanish, Arabic and Russian.
Later versions will have the triage and tracing information – the early release will provide WHO-approved information and advice as well as guidance in response to ‘what should I do based on my symptoms’ questions.
‘We want to get this out and working so we can move on to more significant functionality that will help the public as well as public health authorities.’
WHO MyHealth is an open source app, which means anyone with the right skills can contribute to its development and the team are looking for volunteers.
It’s being developed using the Google Flutter platform that allows for code to be written once and run across multiple platforms and members of the Flutter team have been helping advice the developers.
It follows the launch of a WhatsApp chatbot launched by the World Health Organisation that will act as a hub of ‘reliable information’ for users.
It claims the service provides ‘simple, actionable guidance’ for various people most affected by the ongoing crisis.
This includes health workers, educators, community leaders, nonprofits, local governments and businesses.
– Daily Mail