Keep.Out.Covid app helps firms screen employees for COVID-19

Sibahle Malinga
By Sibahle Malinga, ITWeb senior news journalist.
Johannesburg, 22 May 2020

Ticketing and cashless payments solutions provider Howler has developed a mobile app to assist organisations with their coronavirus (COVID-19) screening, testing and contact-tracing processes for employees.

Keep.Out.Covid is a simple and easy to use app that consists of a suite of tools that help with temperature checks, symptom diagnosis, information collection and most importantly, the flagging of employees that are at risk of having COVID-19, according to the company.

Howler has become the latest firm to introduce technology to assist in containing the COVID-19 virus, with SA’s Granule Holdings the week saying it is distributing smart helmets to monitor people for high temperatures in the fight against the pandemic.

Meditech South Africa, tech giant Apple, the United Nations Institute for Training and Research, and tech solutions provider 4Sight AccTech are among organisations that recently announced self-screening solutions to help combat the novel virus, which has already infected over 19 000 South Africans, with 369 deaths and almost 9 000 recoveries.

With some parts of SA expected to gradually move into level three lockdown from next month, millions of South Africans will be going back to work, school and other public areas.

This movement of people in and out of buildings, schools and public areas presents a health risk that can potentially lead to a spike in COVID-19 infections, despite millions being spent on the sanitisation of workplaces and public areas.

As part of the lockdown regulations, employment and labour minister Thulas Nxesi last month announced all organisations must screen employees for symptoms of COVID-19 when they report for work, in order to prevent the transmission of the virus in the workplace.

Contravention of the Occupational Health and Safety Act could result in fines, or the company could risk being temporarily shut down.

Available from iOS and Android app stores, Keep.Out.Covid assigns users to their organisation and runs a self-screening test (either at home or upon entering the workplace) by asking 10 questions relating to COVID-19 symptoms.

The details are then logged onto the app. If the user fails the screening test, they will have the option of having their results sent to a medical practitioner assigned to their organisation for a further consultation.

“Over the past few weeks, hundreds and thousands of tests have been done by government to determine the infection rate and most importantly to try and flatten the curve,” notes Tahl Evian, developer at Howler.

“Through Keep.Out.Covid, South Africans will get to ‘screen’ themselves from the comfort of their home, fill in the symptoms questionnaire and instantly be notified if they are at risk or not. This will help lessen the burden on the country’s healthcare system, flag those who are showing symptoms and ensure those that are going into the workplace are all checked and verified on entry.”

According to Evian, the app’s distinguishing feature is its ability in helping to attain personal information, which is vital in the tracking and tracing of infected individuals. The app can also be interfaced with a network of on-call doctors to consult those with early symptoms.

“As and when organisations sign on, they can be linked to the company’s assigned medical practitioner, based on agreed consultation rates. We are also in the process of finalising an arrangement to link those that do not have medical aid or a practitioner, to be able to get a free consultation service,” adds Evian.

The app’s scanning feature allows organisations to verify successful pre-screening access codes and record temperature readings in real-time, with secure database collection, which stores screening and temperature information in real-time and makes reports available to designated managers or authorities.

The app also has an infrared thermometer and temperature recording tool.

“While the system does not specifically conduct contact-tracing functions, it assists by recording and tracking every person that would have scanned in and out of the organisation,” states Evian.

“When an employee arrives at the workplace, the QR code is scanned to validate the organisation and the temperature reading is conducted. In the event of a positive case, the system can be used to notify all other persons who went through the same scanning point. QR codes are valid across any organisation in the network and not specific to an organisation or location.”