Rwanda is deploying digital tools in contact tracing for coronavirus infections, following in the steps of several countries that are using smartphone data and other digital surveillance tools to curb the virus from spreading further.

The government has so far tested more than 30,000 people, recording 261 positive cases and 129 recoveries as of Wednesday. Knowing it is difficult to fully rely on the information provided by those who tested positive, Rwanda opted for a digitized contact tracing method.

Reports indicate that the Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority has set up a team that is using mobile phone data profiles to trace people who had contacts with COVID-19 patients. The system works in a way that when someone tests positive of Covid-19, the profiles are used to retrieve data provided by the closest transmission towers to track their movement.

Then the team tracks other phones that came in close contact with the infected person’s phone using movement analytics. Deeper data analysis is then carried out and information obtained helps the COVID-19 command centre to trace the people and contact them for testing.

The method has proved effective so far, reports show, as most of those who tested positive and those they got in contact with had smartphones. Besides contact tracing, IT solutions are also used to monitor and geo-fence people in localized isolation centres to keep them in areas of confinement while data obtained help to inform law enforcement agencies of people violating social distancing rules in areas of concentration.