Health Technologies and Innovations Effectively Respond to the COVID-19 pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic marks one of the worst global health challenges in the history of pandemics. Since WHO declared it a global pandemic in March, COVID-19 has since swept across the world, infecting more than 20 million people and killing thousands. Due to its high transmissibility, fatality, and lack of a cure, the only viable mitigation has been containment of the virus. But despite attempts of lockdown and travel restrictions, the virus remains a challenge as infections continue to soar in different parts of the world.
Digital health technologies have been very effective in facilitating pandemic strategy and response in ways that cannot be achieved through the manual system. Various technologies have been harnessed to support the public health response to COVID-19 worldwide. Some successful solutions have been used in population screening, planning and tracking, contact tracing, and resource allocation.
The use of digitally connected rapid diagnostic tests has allowed mass testing and reduced the strain on diagnostic laboratories. The use of high performance thermal infrared cameras set up in airports in the entrance of malls, workplaces, schools, buses can capture thermal images and detect individuals with a fever. Drive-through testing systems and self-swab services have also widened access to testing. Recently, Germany launched a smartwatch app that collects the pulse, temperature, and sleep pattern to screen for viral infections such as the COVID-19.
planning and tracking of infections
Through Big data and Artificial Intelligence tools, governments have been able to prepare for the pandemic’s impact and track infected people quickly to reduce the spread of the virus. This has been achieved by using tools such as migration maps, mobile phones, payment applications, and social media to acquire data in real-time and locate people. For instance, the Chinese government used this technology to track people who had visited the Wuhan market before the outbreak.
Digital Contact Tracing
Countries like South Korea and the UK have been very aggressive in tracing people who have been in contact with infected persons. This has been achieved through the use of digital tools such as security cameras, facial recognition technologies, transaction data, and the Global Positioning System (GPS). In China, the AliPay HealthCode app can automatically detect contacts by concurrent locations and enforce quarantine and self-isolation.
The early integration of digital healthcare technologies is why some countries like China have flattened their Covid-19 incidence curves, reduced infection and mortality rates. In the fight to contain and manage COVID-19, more countries continue to integrate old and new technologies to facilitate planning, testing, contact tracing, tracking, quarantine, and managing this global pandemic.
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