SA now has a COVID-19 tracing database

Reading Time: 2 minutes

The movements of people who have tested positive or are reasonably suspected to have contracted corononavirus can be traced through their electronic communications service providers. This is according to the amended lockdown regulations released on Thursday.

The regulations state that the Director General of the Department of Health may obtain the details of the person concerned, including their location, from their service providers in writing or without prior notice.  This is for the inclusion of the details in the COVID-19 Tracing Database.

“The information may only be obtained, used or disclosed by authorised persons and may only be obtained, used and disclosed when necessary for the purposes of addressing, preventing or combating the spread of COVID-19 through the contact tracing processes,”  the government gazette on the regulations further outlines.

The video below is a report on donated handsets to track COVID-19 contacts:

South Africa is on its day seven of the 21 days national lockdown, which was enacted to curb the spread of the coronavirus.   The spread of the virus led to a declaration of national state of disaster under the Disaster Management Act of 2002.

In the video below, SABC News Anchor Arabile Gumede looks at the spread of coronavirus in SA since the first case: 

As part of the declaration’s regulations , government through the National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD) is responsible for maintaining a database of persons infected and are reasonably suspected to have the virus.

The information that obtained from service providers and is not relevant to the coronavirus tracing is retained by the Director General. “Information obtained, apart from what is included in the COVID-19 Tracing Database, may only be retained by the Director: General: Health for a period of six weeks after being obtained and shall thereafter be destroyed.  Nothing in this regulation entitles the Director- General: Health or any other person to intercept the contents of electronic communication.”

Those that do not adhere to regulations guiding the use information for COVID-19 tracing face penalties or imprisonment for a period not exceeding six months.

The COVID-19 Tracing Database will be availed for research, study and teaching purposes after the national state of disaster has lapsed.

The tweet below provides a link to the regulations of the COVID-19 tracing: