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Covid-19: Govt urges people to share health info through mobile phone

  • Published at 09:15 pm March 29th, 2020
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People can dial *3332# free of cost to provide information about their health by self-reporting

The government has started using mobile phone operators’ networks in a bid to develop a risk-analysis database to curb the spread of the deadly coronavirus in the country.

According to officials concerned, a text message from the government is being sent to all mobile phone users, seeking health related information to determine potential carriers of the coronavirus, reports BSS.

Posts and Telecommunications Minister Mustafa Jabbar on Sunday said the government has formed a national taskforce comprising different stakeholders, including the Health and Family Welfare Ministry, to set future measures for fighting Covid-19 using technology.

“All 166.2 million mobile phone users in the country will get an SMS where they will be asked to dial *3332# free of cost, to provide health information by self-reporting,” the minister said.

Referring to the success of China, South Korea, Japan, and other countries in containing the spread of coronavirus, Jabbar said: “If people provide information spontaneously responding to the SMS, the government can easily determine the next course of action to minimize the Covid-19 pandemic in the country.”

Officials familiar with the process said, the users will be asked five questions regarding age, whether they have breathing problems, fever or cough, if they came into contact with any recent returnee from abroad and if they come close to any coronavirus infected people.

“All of these information are personal and none of them will be disclosed to or shared with anyone or any organization,” said Jabbar.

Appealing to all mobile phone users for providing the required information, he said: “Your self-reporting response could help the government to adopt appropriate measures to overcome the deadly Covid-19 pandemic like China and few other countries.”

“We have the technology, but we need people’s cooperation for establishing the national platform,” added Jabbar.

Replying to a query, he said only the National Telecommunication Monitoring Centre (NTMC) is assigned to deal with this information upon the approval of Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC). 

“No entity other than NTMC has the scope to use the obtained information,” he added.

The minister said NTMC will develop a digital map using all the data and based on that, the government will move for the next course of action to contain the spread of the virus.

In the SMS, users will also receive a web address—http://corona.gov.bd/—and if anyone wants, they can also share information there.

They can also upload their health information using respective mobile apps. The “Corona Info” app interface will be shared with popular apps like Grameenphone, Robi, Banglalink, Nagad, bKash, and Uber.

Robi’s Head of Corporate and Regulatory Affairs Shahed Alam said they have already sent the text message to all of its customers.

“We will continue to send out this message in phases to make our customers aware of self-reporting,” he added.

BTRC Chairman Md Jahurul Haque on Sunday said they have extended their cooperation for the job. He also requested the mobile phone users to provide necessary information through self-reporting.

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