The South African government headed by President Cyril Ramaphosa has asked mobile phone companies to help track movement of people as they continue their fight against the spread of coronavirus. So far, the country has reported the highest virus infection cases in the continent recently topping 1,000.
The request came after the government announced a national lockdown which was effective 3 days after the announcement – a perfect window for people to relocate to remote areas hence increasing the potential of spreading the virus.
Many people have been recently relocating from Johannesburg, to beat the timelines ahead of a national lockdown which started on Friday. Heavy traffic has been reported on main roads out of the city, a day before the lockdown started, despite the government’s plea for people not to engage in long-distance travels.
Majority of the cases reported so far, according to Bloomberg, have emerged in or around urban areas, mostly linked to affluent individuals.
The massive movement alone seems to have prompted the government asked ISPs to lend a hand in tracking movement to “better prepare for the next areas most at risk.”
Vodacom says the government requested for “high-level aggregated data” which doesn’t include any personal information or data that could help identify an individual. MTN Group Ltd, the second biggest ISP in the country, has also agreed to help the government.
The 21-day national lockdown in the country started yesterday as coronavirus cases topped 1000 – the highest in the continent.
The high number of cases has prompted the government to step up their game if the virus is to be contained. Extensive testing is being done with the country, with more than 20,000 tests done since the beginning, according to TWP.