COVID symptom tracker app, fake news, and Rachel jumps

Doctors and scientists at King’s College London have developed an app called COVID symptom tracker. You can download it to your smartphone and each day report how you’re feeling, even if you’re feeling well. The data will be used to learn more about the virus and how it spreads. I have not had any symptoms and so have just been inputting each day that I’m feeling well. You can look at the map online to see what percentage of people in your area are experiencing symptoms. The more people who use the app the better the data will be.

Good data and facts are so important at a time like this. This week a fake news story about 5G causing coronavirus went viral. At first, I thought it must have been an April Fool’s joke because I couldn’t understand why people would believe it but there really was a conspiracy theory and people really did believe it, so much so that mobile phone masts were set on fire.

Another fake news story I’ve seen shared more than once is that the virus cannot survive in temperatures above 27C despite the fact the human body is 37C. According to potholer54’s (potholer is a science journalist) YouTube video, the BBC tracked down the source of this claim to an 84 year-old-man named Peter who said, “Everything I posted I believed genuinely to be the truth and factual”. The problem is Donald Trump sees crap like this and repeats it on national television with sometimes tragic results. For instance, a man died after consuming a parasitic treatment for fish after watching Donald Trump talk about the anti-malarial drug, chloroquine, as a possible treatment for coronavirus.

We are all responsible for fact-checking the things we say and share on social media. It’s not enough to say “I genuinely believed it to be the truth and factual”. What did you do to come to that conclusion? Did you check the source of the information? Who is the author and where was it published? Does the author have any expertise in this area and is the source a reputable one? Are there similar reports from other sources? Are there references and if yes, did you check them?

On other matters, since I’m not able to get any jumping shots at medieval castles and lochs I thought I’d get a jumping shot from the trampoline instead.

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6 Replies to “COVID symptom tracker app, fake news, and Rachel jumps”

  1. I saw the most incredible conspiracy theory rubbish the other day, too. It’s staggering in its stupidity, but I force myself to read it (not all of it – I can’t take too much of it), just so I know what some people are thinking.

    An 84 year old man, eh? Shows we don’t always get wiser as we get older!

  2. As in the case in Malaysia, the Health Ministry (through the National Cyber Security Agency) pushed a single app called MySejahtera that has several objectives – one which is used as a tracker (the other functions includes hotspot map, check-in option, self-assessment for COVID-19, daily statistics, etc).

    There were several problems with the app:-

    1. It was a poorly designed app at the start, turning off potential users (issues have now been fixed and it is a reasonably good app now). The design team at MOH was quite fast to track & fix issues.
    2. Not many people willing to download and use them especially the tracker needs Bluetooth to be switched on. If not mistaken, more than 500K have downloaded the app but considering the current population, it is a drop in the sea.
    3. Individual states and other government agencies came up with their own tracker apps which competes with this one app.

    The MOH put a lot of effort and time on getting this app to widely used so that it will be easier to contain any new virus clusters. On the daily updates, the citizens are urged to assist the Government in the fight against this pandemic by downloading and using the MySejahtera app.

    What is needed is a single well-designed app (that has more than 1 functions), easy to use and push for everyone to use it.

    1. Thanks B.Joe for this information about the app in Malaysia. I have wondered whether it will be a problem getting people to download and use the app and it sounds very much like that is the case. Having multiple apps to choose from sounds problematic too. This is a situation where an app is only effective if we’re all using the same one. Let’s hope these problems will be resolved quickly.

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