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App uses passenger data to trace virus path

Health & Science - By Brian Otieno

The Government will today launch an application that will aid in contact-tracing as it moves to tame the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

Through the application christened mSafari, Public Service Vehicles (PSV) operators and passengers will be required to provide critical data that will help trace back the movements of infected or suspected cases.

Matatus, taxis and motorbike operators will be required to collect contact details of every passenger which will automatically register on the mSafari platform.

All PSVs, including their owners and respective saccos will be required to enroll on the platform using their vehicle registration numbers.

The service will be free across all networks through the provided user code *483*42#. The application will at all times track the GPS location of the vehicle.

The application is expected to trace all the contacts made by an infected person inside PSVs.

According to data from the developers, one in every two Kenyans uses public transport on a daily basis, accounting for 53 per cent.

Available data also estimates that 60 per cent of the country’s households have a member who uses public transport on a daily basis making PSVs high-risk areas for coronavirus infection.

Enforce directive

The application is also meant to enforce a directive issued on Friday on the maximum number of passengers that matatus and buses are allowed to carry, in line with the social-distancing measures that have been touted by experts as critical in containing the virus.

In the event the limit is exceeded, the application will signal an established database for action against the operators by the relevant authority.

Commuter behaviour will also be observed through the application through an analysis of the various routes, times and other commuter patterns.

The mSafiri application is a joint programme of the ministries of health and transport.

On Friday, Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe issued guidelines on the operations of the PSVs in preventing an outbreak.

He directed that 14-seater matatus should carry a maximum eight passengers with 25-seater vehicles required to carry 15.

Vehicles with 30 or more capacity, including the Standard Gauge Railway train were directed to maintain a maximum capacity of 60 per cent.

mSafari Coronavirus patients

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