Design and Implementation of Coronavirus (COVID-19) Tracking System for Infected Patients
1.1 Background to the study
The novel Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), first identified in Wuhan China in December 2019, has rapidly spread to almost every countries of the world. The disease is caused by a new and severe type of Coronavirus known as severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARSCoV-2). The infection has no immediate treatment and vaccine, and it has according to World Health Organization (WHO, 2020) become a worldwide pandemic causing significant morbidity and mortality. There are 1,603,428 confirmed cases, 356,440 recoveries from the illness and 95,714 deaths worldwide as of April 9, 2020 (Worldometers, 2020). On February 27, 2020, an Italian citizen became the index case for COVID-19 in Nigeria and as at April 9, 2020, there were 288 laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Nigeria with 51 discharges and 7 deaths (Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, NCDC, 2020).
To control the spread of COVID-19, interventions need to break the chains of human-to-human transmission, ensuring that the number of new cases generated by each confirmed case is maintained below 1 (effective reproduction number < 1). As part of a comprehensive strategy, contact tracing are critical activities to reduce transmission and control the epidemic.
Contact tracing is the process of identifying, assessing, and managing people who have been exposed to a disease to prevent onward transmission. When systematically applied, contact tracing will break the chains of transmission of an infectious disease and is thus an essential public health tool for controlling infectious disease ouCOVID-19reaks. Contact tracing for COVID-19 requires identifying persons who may have been exposed to COVID-19 and following them up daily for 14 days from the last point of exposure.
The invention of Internet and of the Word Wide web offers great opportunities of revolutionizing people’s lives. Health care settings are increasing employing Information technology, which offers significant contribution in providing health care services by aiding cut costs and improving quality of health care (Blaya, Fraser, & Holt, 2010). In 2005 WHO passed a resolution, which enables member states to achieve collaboration and provision of mutual support in health systems integration aiming in improving health care, supporting surveillance activities and sharing knowledge (Simba, 2004).
With more people connected to the internet, which is available and reliable, this can be achieved. COVID-19 control programs that use mobile and web-enabled applications provide a great potential for significantly tracing Coronavirus patience with harnessing the benefits for the global fight against COVID-19 among newly infected individuals and reducing further transmissions. Contact screening complements efforts of contact tracing. This process follows risk stratification concerning the infectiousness of the index patient, the duration and proximity of exposure, and the susceptibility of the contact. More important the screening includes evaluation for possible COVID-19 with a symptom’s questionnaire (e.g Fever, dry cough tiredness, aches and pains, sore throat, diarrhea, conjunctivitis, headache loss of taste or smell, a rash on skin, or discolouration of fingers or toes, difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, chest pain or pressure) and chest radiography WHO (2020).
The current Manuel contact tracing and screening activities in Nigeria can be supported by modern information technologies through use of mobile phone and text communication with possible Coronavirus contacts. The ability to rapidly collect and access high quality data presents a notable benefit of the proposed system.
In contact tracing, every index case is asked to name his or her contacts in other terms graphing neighbours who may be infected, then the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) seeks out these contacts as time and resources permit to test whether they are infected and isolate them if so.
The proposed COVID-19 contact tracing in general aims to identify individuals who may have had contact with COVID-19 patient.
Tracing those who have been exposed to Covid-19 is an important step in winding down socially and economically crippling lockdowns. Manual tracing is resource-intensive and ineffective. A number of countries, including Singapore and Australia, have adopted smartphone apps for tracing Covid-19 cases.
Despite these advancements in technology that can improve COVID-19 Contact tracing, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control has fallen short in adopting them. It is on this note that the study is undertaken to establish an effective and efficient way of contact tracing using mobile application system. The study aimed at incorporating USSD and Android technology in contact tracing and screening activities in order to target a larger population of Nigerians and improve Covid-19 contact tracing in Nigeria.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
The Nigeria center for disease and control (NCDC) is facing significant challenges as it relates to combating the spread of Coronavirus in Nigeria. The challenges identified include the challenge of structural neglect of healthcare infrastructure across all spectrums throughout the federation as a result of decades of underfunding by all tiers of government in Nigeria, inadequate testing equipment’s, inefficiencies in data collection and reporting COVID-19 patients and their contacts. Because of these challenges, the number of COVID-19 cases is fast increasing daily.
The NCDC officials are conducting COVID-19 contact tracing by visiting cases’ homes and using a national C OVID-19contact tracing form to screen household contacts. Health care workers record contacts’ responses directly onto the paper form and later enter these data into a Microsoft Excel database by hand. These data are also used to generate summary reports.
There may be considerable limitations to conducting COVID-19 contact tracing with this Manuel approach and other resource-limited settings. For example, the use of paper forms may result in inefficiencies in data collection, storage, and retrieval and errors (e.g., missing, incorrect, or illogical values). In addition, summary reports must be generated by hand. This process is not timely and can take a significant number of days before the limited number of health workers are able to trace and isolate contacts in different places.
Thus, this thesis seeks to propose an automated system that will use USSD, and Android based applications for COVID-19 contact tracing and screening. The system is also integrated to a web dashboard, which provides various reports and analytics from a central data store. The real time data submission to a central data store enables NCDC officials to make decisions faster and in effective manner.
1.3 Aims an Objective of the Study
The main thrust of this thesis is to design an automated Coronavirus patient contact tracing using mobile application.
The study sought to examine the following specific objectives.
- To investigate how the automated Coronavirus patient contact tracing using mobile application. can be used to curtail the spread of COVID-19
- To examine the related architecture, models, technologies, and challenges of existing COVID-19 contact tracing approaches.
- To develop, design and test a mobile-based system for COVID-19 contact tracing and
- To validate the developed
1.4 Ethical Considerations
- There are a cluster of related ethical concerns around privacy, confidentiality, and security. The apps and processes around their use must:
- be designed and implemented to minimise impact on privacy, with guarantees around limited use.
- minimise the use of identifiable information and protect any identifiable information which is used;
- be designed and implemented in ways that prevent unauthorized access to information and misuse of the app or its processes.
1.5 Scope of study
This research specifically focused on COVID-19 contact tracing methods currently in practice in Nigeria based on the guidelines developed by Ministry of Health and international guidelines laid down by World Health Organization. The study is limited target users included COVID-19 health workers, Coronavirus contacts. The deliverable of this research was a mobile-based system and a web application. This involved development of an Android application, which allowed health workers to trace COVID-19 contacts, and a USSD application, which enabled the COVID-19 contacts to screen their symptoms and risk factors. The web dashboard allowed display and presentation of the various analytics and reports as collected from the Android and USSD applications.