The National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD) and the Department of Health has been using data from cellphone service providers since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic to try to track the movements of people who have the coronavirus among members.
Dr. Zaid Kimmie, a statistician at NICD and the National Health Laboratory, said on Thursday at the health department’s symposium on the Covid-19 models he uses, that Vodacom has been helping to monitor the movements of sick people since the beginning of March.
Data showing cellphone users’ movements are now being used to create models that show what the impact of the state of restriction was and how measures such as maintaining a safe distance can still help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
The government announced this regulation early in the national state of restriction.
This means service providers can use cell tower data to determine where any of its subscribers have been in the last few days, weeks or even months.
It is therefore theoretically possible to check the movements of a sick person by looking at his cellphone history.
“The regulations remain in force and Vodacom will continue to provide the data of individual clients who test positive for the coronavirus to the Department of Health as and when requested,” said Byron Kennedy, spokeswoman.
The service provider also provides aggregated and anonymous data to assist the government in its modeling of the spread of the disease.
The data is also used to determine whether people adhere to the containment rules, and whether they move around in violation of the rules.