Israel corona app tells you when you’ve crossed paths with a carrier

The app compares phone user’s whereabouts with constantly updated Health Ministry information.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

The Health Ministry launched Sunday a phone app that enables people to instantly be informed if they have unknowingly crossed paths with a coronavirus victim so that they can quarantine themselves.

Called HaMagen (“The Shield”), the app “allows you to get a notification (time and date) regarding your exposure to a confirmed patient” within the past 14 days, said the ministry in an accompanying statement.

The application, available both in the Google Play store and Apple’s AppStore, is updated in real-time with the history of every new patient’s whereabouts. This way, people do not have to keep studying the ministry’s website to see if they were in the vicinity of someone who has tested positive.

Upon opening the app, Health Ministry data is automatically cross-referenced with all the places people have been with their phones. If a match is made, the app “redirects the user to a link to the Health Ministry’s website, which will let you know what steps to take and allow you to report to the Health Ministry for home isolation.”

“With this we can stop the spread of the disease and protect those closest to us,” the ministry said.

For those fearing for their privacy, the ministry assured users that all the information about their whereabouts is stored solely on their phones. No information is given to the authorities about peoples’ movements; they are simply told that they have been near coronavirus victims and should go into self-isolation to ensure their health.

In this way the app works differently from the Shin Bet’s tracking of citizens’ phones. The internal security agency then informs the Health Ministry if someone had been within two meters of an ill person for more than 10 minutes so that he or she could be ordered into self-isolation.