Published Date : 2020-04-16
COVID-19 has spread to virtually all nations, and countries are employing all resources at their disposal to fight the virus. Science and biotechnology are being explored by researchers around the globe to find a hint of a cure. We have now resorted to Artificial Intelligence (AI). Countries located in the Gulf Cooperation Council have reportedly been increasing their reliance on AI tools to prevent the coronavirus pandemic from spreading further. Governments of countries in the Middle East, including Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, are implementing some of the most stringent measures to tackle the outbreak. Some of these measures, like suspension of passenger flights and imposition of a curfew on citizens, have effectively put a halt on new cases of COVID-19. Globally, the virus has infected over 2 million people, as per information from Johns Hopkins University.
Countries have gone beyond implementing a lockdown, which involved restricting, and in some cases, even ceasing public movement, to shut down business and trade, barring essential items. They are deploying high-end technology like drones, robots, and speed cameras to ensure that the safety protocols and social distancing guidelines are being followed. Location-based contact tracing has allowed governments to monitor the population that has tested positive for the virus and made it easier to limit exposure. AI can process massive chunks of data, which has helped governments around the world in data collection that is essential to stop the epidemic. China, Hong Kong, and Singapore have employed contact-tracing to monitor COVID cases. The grounds of using AI for this purpose go back and forth between infringement of privacy and the more important – curtailing the spread of the pandemic and subsequently be able to lift the lockdown.
Bahrain, which has reported 1,671 cases, was one of the first ones to start relaxing certain restrictions and allowed the reopening of certain stores and malls. Bahrain is using an application named ‘BeAware’ that uses location information, which helps residents track their distance from someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. India has also developed an application for smartphones, christened ‘Aarogya Setu’ translated to ‘a bridge to healthcare,’ also uses a contact tracing technology to help people measure their proximity to a person who has tested positive for the virus. Aarogya Setu became the highest downloaded app globally in merely 13 days from its launch with 50 million users.