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Sunday, May 31, 2020

Aarogya team shares 600 potential local hotspots

The officials said that a test analysis conducted between April 13 and April 20 had identified 130 hotspot predictions, each of which was declared a real hotspot by the Ministry within 3-17 days.

Written by Karishma Mehrotra | New Delhi | Updated: May 10, 2020 11:50:02 am
5,000 to return to Haryana; Aarogya Setu app, quarantine mandatory Aarogya Setu is a contact-tracing app developed by the National Informatics Centre (NIC) under the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology. (Express photo: Sneha Saha)

THE HEALTH Ministry is passing on to states a list of over 600 potential hotspots at the sub-post office-level that were identified in an analysis conducted by developers of the Aarogya Setu app — none of these locations had been deemed as hotspots earlier.

These potential hotspots of 6-9 km area each were determined by using the previous two-week location history of the over 12,500 COVID-19 patients on the app as well as self-assessment information, according to Principal Scientific Advisor K VijayRaghavan, Niti Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant, and IT secretary Ajay Prakash Sawhney.

The list was sent via the app’s dashboard to the Health Ministry on May 5. The officials said that a test analysis conducted between April 13 and April 20 had identified 130 hotspot predictions, each of which was declared a real hotspot by the Ministry within 3-17 days.
“The team discovered that they have the analytical ability to say that some regions could be stronger locations of positive people. Once they saw that plausibility, they immediately conveyed it to the Health Ministry. And that is now constantly being done,” Vijay Raghavan said.

“The Health Ministry will be using it. They pass it on to states and districts. This is very recent and important information. The idea now is that the ability to predict a potential hotspot must be translated into preventing that hotspot from happening. You want to stop that prediction from happening by your intervention. That’s what they will be doing now,” he said.

Over 9.57 crore Indians have downloaded the app, which was rolled out early last month. Apart from government entities, a team of industry volunteers from companies like MakeMyTrip, Indihood and 1Mg, and academics at IIT Madras and IISc Bangalore, are involved in its operations.

More than 23 per cent of the 8,5000 individuals deemed to be the highest risk by the application have turned out to be COVID-19 positive after the information was sent to ICMR.

“The dashboard is made available securely by Aarogya Setu to central health ministry, state health departments, district collectors, district chief medical officers and district surveillance officers. In the list, we are specifically emphasising the likely hotspots in districts which were not categorised as red by the Ministry. This has to be checked by ground-level activity to prevent them from becoming hotspots,” Sawhney said.

The team gave the example of Maharashtra, where more than 60 hotspots spread across 18 districts were listed. In addition to those in the list, more than 300 “emerging hotspots” are also being tracked by the Aarogya Setu team.

“Wherever people have been able to download and keep their Bluetooth and GPS active, the predictions work. If people have not done this, then you can’t help it.” Kant said.

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