Far from the concerns and controversies aroused in France around the voluntary tracking application StopCovid, the Moroccan authorities launched on Monday an identical mobile tool which will allow contacts to be traced to fight against the spread of Covid-19. Called “Wiqaytna” (our protection), this application uses Bluetooth technology, the communication system between nearby electronic devices, with “voluntary” use, according to the authorities. Concretely, how does this happen ? The application “sends a notification to the user in the event of prolonged physical proximity to another user who is positive for Covid-19” and allows the Ministry of Health to make “an exposure risk assessment”, then, if necessary if necessary, to get in touch with the notified case, according to the same source.
Master the chain of contamination
Morocco, which has 35 million inhabitants, has increased the number of screenings in recent days, with around 208,366 tests conducted, 7,819 cases officially detected and 205 deaths, according to the report published on Monday.
The Wiqaytna application, which is inspired by a technology used in Singapore, has been validated by the National Commission for the Control of Personal Data Protection (CNDP), an official body which has conditioned its use to several measures of protection of private data. The project was developed jointly by the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of the Interior, in collaboration with the Digital Development Agency (ADD) and the National Telecommunications Regulatory Agency (ANRT). Several companies and schools have also collaborated – sometimes on a voluntary basis – in the project, like the OCP or the Khouribga 1337 coding school.
Read also The 10 lessons from Asia to fight the Covid-19
What is done elsewhere
Different countries have adopted tracing systems in recent weeks, with sometimes very lively debates on their compatibility with individual freedoms. In Singapore, the government application TraceTogether launched in mid-March has had mixed success, with a low number of users (1.5 million people, barely a quarter of the population) and therefore of limited effectiveness.
A study by the English University of Oxford estimated, in March, that a minimum of 60% of a population was required for this type of application to be a real help to stem the epidemic. In India, Aargoya Setu, the anti-Covid-19 tracking application launched by the government on April 2, has been massively downloaded. Over 100 million people have downloaded it, almost one in ten Indians. It is the most important health control program in the world. But NGOs have been protesting for several months against invasions of privacy. They notably call into question the opaque collection of data via Bluetooth and GPS technologies. Indeed, the application was up to president mandatory for employees in the public and private sector. The government was forced to back down and made it optional.
In Morocco, the authoritarian strategy adopted to limit contagion – compulsory confinement, limited movement, frequent police checks – has attracted fairly strong support from the population, according to official indicators. The use of the application is considered “a civic gesture to contribute to the fight against the spread of the virus”, indicate the authorities. The extension of the compulsory confinement to June 10, for a total duration of approximately 10 weeks, however raised reservations. In fact, many have started to return to normal life in recent days.
Read also Covid-19: the Tunisian example
Adapt the application to the reality on the ground
In this regard, Tunisia has taken a few days ahead. The country launched in mid-May its E7mi application, available on Android and being validated on iOS. This time, it was graciously developed by a Tunisian start-up which usually creates digital marketing tools for foreign companies. Like the French StopCovid application, E7mi is not based on the architecture proposed by Apple and Google.
If a person using the application is tested positive, the Observatory of Emerging Diseases (ONME) will warn other users who have crossed the path of their phone, based on the information transmitted by the phone to a server. “We started in March, when we heard about the Tracetogether application in Singapore, but we wanted to do something suitable for Tunisia,” says Akil Nagati, director of the start-up Wizz Labs .
Thus, users “will not be able to declare themselves sick, to avoid any false alarm and notifications received by a user who has been in contact with a sick person will be followed by a telephone call from ONME to be sure that ‘There is a follow-up,’ he adds. “We have been faster than many countries,” said the young engineer. The Tunisian application has been validated by the Ministry of Health after three weeks of tests.
“An awareness campaign will encourage people to install the application, but if we see that the installation rate remains very low, we will consider changing our strategy,” warned Bassem Kchaou, in charge of digital at the ministry of Health. It could thus become mandatory to download the application before entering a large area. Personal data, archived for 14 days under the control of the National Authority for the Protection of Personal Data, can only be consulted by ONME for contacts of people tested positive for the new coronavirus, we are assured.
Read also Morocco: “Containment, when you still hold us! “