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Apps, Startups Help Curb The Coronavirus Panic For Kerala, Karnataka

Apps, Startups Help Curb The Coronavirus Panic For Kerala, Karnataka

State governments are using online platforms to connect with citizens

Karnataka government is using Telegram group to broadcast messages

Kerala has roped in startup QKopy for public alerts as it did during SARS and Nipah outbreaks

As the number of positive cases of coronavirus and Covid-19 surge by the day, the panic created by this deadly virus is also increasing across the country. To curb this panic, centre and state governments are now implementing tech solutions.

So far, over 120 people in India have been tested positive for both coronavirus and Covid-19. Moreover, the pandemic has also claimed the lives of two individuals in India. While these numbers are already enough to create a chaos-like situation in the country, fake news and reports have further added to the turmoil.

In response to this situation, the central government was the first one to come forward and launch an online platform to deliver credible information about the coronavirus to Indians. The platform, which was launched by the ministry of health under the National Health Programme, aims to offer all the coronavirus-related information in a single place.

The government posts information such as preventive measures, advisories, and other updates related to the coronavirus outbreak in India. It also provides all the updates on the government’s decision which are taken in regard to control the spread of coronavirus in India.

Kerala Banks On Apps To Get The Word Out

While Karnataka is relying on instant messaging app Telegram to dispense reliable information to citizens, the Kerala state government has gone a step further and has launched an app called GoK – Direct Kerala.

Speaking to Inc42, Kerala Startup Mission’s CEO Dr Saji Gopinath said that the application has been developed by QKopy. The Kerala-based startup also provided similar services at the time of SARS CoV-2 or Nipah virus outbreak, Gopinath added.

The application, which can be downloaded from the Google Play Store, provides information and updates related to coronavirus to the users. Besides the mobile application, the platform also sends notifications on feature phones via SMS. This is quite helpful for users who still don’t use smartphones.

The app sends daily updates about the number of persons under surveillance, home isolation, number of suspect cases and more in English and Malayalam. Additionally, citizens are also informed about the number of samples sent for testing and the number of tests that are negative to curb panic of the pandemic. District-wise numbers based on these parameters are also available on the platform.

Besides citizens, the application is also used by government authorities as a reliable source of information regarding the coronavirus outbreak. Using these numbers, authorities can take precautionary measures in the areas which they are managing right now.

Karnataka Goes With Telegram

While most state governments have a helpline to curb the spread of coronavirus related fake news and rumours, the Karnataka state government has also launched a similar platform but on messaging platform Telegram.

The government chose Telegram as its official broadcaster because the messaging platform allows more than thousands of users in a single group. Besides checking fake news and rumours, the CoVid-19 Karnataka-Sahaya Group also responds to queries and concerns of people living in Karnataka.

The platform was launched on Friday (March 13) and by Sunday evening, over 6K members had already joined. The group is currently handled by a team of five doctors who work in eight-hour shifts. Other government officials are also working to verify the information before it is sent out.

The Telegram group announces school closures, preventive methods, home quarantine procedures, emergency contact numbers. To moderate content, users have been barred from sharing any personal content, image, video or text.

Karnataka’s department of information and public relations’ secretary Captain P Manivannan said the idea was the best way to reduce fake news and panic, while answering doubts in real-time. “We need to curb the fake news before it grows and spreads like CoViD19,” Manivannan told ThePrint.