The Karnataka government will begin tracking the phones of people who have been placed under quarantine both at home and at hospitals in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic which has seen a steady rise in the number of cases in India.
Karnataka Medical Education Minister Dr K Sudhakar on Wednesday told legislators in the Karnataka Assembly that the government made the decision to track the phones of those in quarantine as a measure to prevent the spread of COVID-19. â€śEven though we have said home quarantine is mandatory, there is a chance that people will step out. And in case people step out, we will be able to track them through their phone. We have the technology to do this,â€ť Minister Sudhakar said.
Speaking to TNM, an official with the Health Department said that the department is looking at various technologies that could be used to track phones of those under quarantine. In Taiwan, which has a population of 24 million, phones were tracked based on their sim cards and their network stations during the quarantine period, a move that proved successful in detecting patients who were deviating from their imposed quarantine period.
â€śWe donâ€™t want to reveal more information about this as we donâ€™t want people to circumvent the system. Also we donâ€™t want people to run away from quarantine,â€ť the official added.
The Home Department is assisting in the phone tracking while the police department will not be involved.
As of Wednesday, 14 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in Karnataka with 11 of those cases being from Bengaluru. The first death in India was also reported from Karnataka after a man from Kalaburagi passed away and was later found to have been positive for COVID-19. His daughter has also tested positive for the coronavirus.
Although India has placed visa restrictions and several states have shut down malls, theatres and educational institutions, there is concern that enough tests are not being done to contain the spread. There have also been instances when people placed in quarantine have escaped from the hospitals, flouting instructions.
A man from Mangaluru fled the isolation facility at Wenlock District Hospital on March 9 against the advice of health officials in Dakshina Kannada and doctors at the hospital. He was later traced by health officials in the district and his samples were tested for COVID-19