The Karnataka government has made it mandatory for those coming to the state from abroad to download three mobile apps – Quarantine Watch, Apthamitra, and ArogyaSetu.
According to the standard operating procedure (SOP) by the department of health and family welfare in Karnataka, the foreign returnees, who will land at Bengaluru or Mangaluru airports or at the Karwar or Mangaluru seaport, will have to get a new SIM, where they will download the apps.
The Karnataka government has directed telecom service providers to open help kiosks at the airports to sell new SIM cards to the foreign returnees and also help them with the data configuration and other technical issues in downloading all the three apps.
“At the time of screening of the returnees at the entry points, the returnees have to download all the three apps— Arogya Setu, Quarantine Watch and Apthamitra apps on their mobiles,” states the SOP.
According to a senior health department official, on Monday, an Air India repatriation flight (1803) arrived from London in Bengaluru carrying 323 passengers. Immediately upon arrival, they purchased an Indian SIM and got it activated and downloaded the three apps.
“Passengers will undergo mandatory RT-PCR testing on arrival along with hand stamping, and they will be required to download surveillance apps like Aarogya Setu, Quarantine Watch and Apthamitra,” said health commissioner Pankaj Kumar Pandey.
Quarantine Watch is a mobile application developed by the Karnataka government to monitor those in quarantine, so that they do not flout norms.
The users are instructed to send selfies or photos to the monitoring team through the app every hour till night at the designated place to ensure they are following the isolation norms.
“There is a backend team that receives these selfies to analyse them. The selfies have GPS coordinates to tell the exact location of the person,” Pandey added.
The Apthamitra app, also developed by the Karnataka government, allows the quarantined people to connect with health workers immediately if they develop symptoms like fever, cold, cough or breathing problems.
The app also identifies persons with low risk but having some symptoms similar to COVID-19, and provides them telemedicine support and counsel about the need for self-quarantine.
About the central government’s Aarogya Setu, Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa Monday said there have been 58,10,813 downloads of the app in the state so far. “The Aarogya Setu has been integrated with Apthamitra for telephonic monitoring and treatment of suspect cases. It is vital to educate the population with the right positive messaging,” Yediyurappa said.
Under the Vande Bharat Mission, the Centre has decided to bring back Indian citizens stranded abroad. The Karnataka government has prepared a list of 10,823 people from the state. On priority, based on their health and financial condition, around 6,100 are to be flown in early.
“The list of foreign returnees includes tourists and visitors (4,408), students (3,074), migrants, and professionals (2,784) and ship crew (557). The state will receive the first batch of 6,100 persons from United Arab Emirates (2,575), Saudi Arabia (957), United States of America (927), Qatar (414) and Canada (328) early,” said Karnataka minister and COVID-19 spokesperson S Suresh Kumar.
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