A nationwide campaign was launched by the Ministry of Health and Prevention today to encourage individuals to protect themselves and their communities with Alhosn, the UAE’s official COVID-19 testing and contact tracing app.
In a statement, the Ministry said while hundreds of thousands of people in the UAE are already shielding themselves from COVID-19 with Alhosn, it hopes the campaign will encourage every citizen and resident to use Alhosn, as the app relies on a high number of subscribers to ensure effectiveness.
Developed in the UAE, Alhosn is a joint initiative between the Ministry of Health and Prevention and local health authorities, endorsed by the National Authority for Emergency and Crisis Management.
Contact tracing has been used for decades to successfully control the spread of infectious diseases around the world, including Ebola, SARS, and MERS, and is a key element of strategies from the World Health Organisation to combat and prevent diseases.
Alhosn has two key uses. It provides quick access to COVID-19 test results as well as contact tracing for rapid and accurate virus containment. The App is being updated to include a third function which is remote monitoring of quarantined individuals. Once fully adopted, Alhosn could allow safe access to public areas.
Dr. Farida Al Hosani, official spokesperson for the UAE health sector, said, "The COVID-19 pandemic has produced unprecedented threats to our health and even our daily lives. So, to curb the spread of the virus, we need to stand united against it, with each of us contributing to this responsibility. This is a fight where our weapon is the unity of the UAE’s society and our shield is Alhosn.
"The app helps us protect ourselves by making it easier and faster for health authorities to notify us if we come in to contact with someone who has COVID-19. It also helps us protect our loved ones as the earlier we are notified then the more effectively we can protect those around us. And, finally, it protects our community by facilitating contact tracing on a national level, containing the spread of COVID-19 faster.
"Alhosn is our fast-track ticket to curb the spread and our protective shield against any future pandemics."
The campaign is in line with the preventive and precautionary measures undertaken by the UAE to contain the spread of the virus and forms a key part of the plan announced by His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, to provide free COVID-19 tests for UAE citizens, as well as other categories of residents, such as domestic workers, people of determination, pregnant women, residents over 60 years old, people with coronavirus symptoms and the contacts of coronavirus patients. Alhosn is the fastest way for patients to receive their results.
Alhosn uses a decentralised model for contact tracing as recommended by global privacy experts. It was created using AI technology similar to that being implemented successfully in other countries around the world. It is safe, secure and designed to safeguard both an individual’s health and their privacy.
Contact tracing works by identifying people who have come in to contact with a person tested positive for COVID-19, even if they did not know they had it at the time. The contacts are notified and supported through a period of isolation and quarantine, during which they either develop symptoms or the period of risk passes.
Dr Farida said, "Technology speeds up every aspect of the contact-tracing process, from identifying and notifying contacts, to monitoring and support. But we cannot win this battle individually. Only through collective action can we contain the spread of COVID-19.
"By using Alhosn, we are protecting ourselves, our loved ones and our communities."
No personally identifiable information is collected throughout the entire process, and only if someone tests positive for COVID-19 will the health authorities ask for their consent to upload the list of anonymised IDs for the past 21 days for the purpose of tracing those with whom they have come into contact.
Alhosn is supported by iOS and Android smartphones and can be downloaded at the Apple App, Google Play, Galaxy or Huawei Huawei AppGallery stores. It is currently available in three languages – Arabic, English and Hindi.