Bahrain launches electronic bracelets to keep track of active COVID-19 cases

Spearheaded by the Information & eGovernment Authority, the new wristbands are part of the government’s effort in quickly tracing new cases of COVID-19, as well as keeping track of active cases.
By Rachel McArthur
02:23 am
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Credit: Kingdom of Bahrain Ministry of Health

The Kingdom of Bahrain is keeping track of its active cases of COVID-19 via electronic bracelets.

Launched earlier this week, the wristbands – which are compatible with the country’s coronavirus contact tracing app, called “BeAware” – have been designed to alert a governmental monitoring station of any suspicious activity. Affected individuals wearing the electronic bracelet must be connected to the app at all times via Bluetooth, with GPS enabled to track movement, ensuring that they do not leave their location. Those self-isolating will be asked to set their location, most likely their place of residence, and made to remain in that location until cleared.

Meanwhile, Ministry of Health officials may randomly send picture requests to which self-isolating individuals must respond with a photo that clearly shows their face and bracelet. An alert is also sent to the monitoring station if the wearer moves further than 15 metres away from their phone. 

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According to Bahrain’s Information & eGovernment Authority (iGA), violators will face legal penalties, potentially being sentenced to imprisonment for a period of not less than three months, as well as a fine between BD 1,000 ($2,660) and BD 10,000 ($26,595), or either one of the two penalties. Attempting to remove or tamper with the bracelet will also be considered a violation, the ministry said in a statement.

WHY IT MATTERS

At the time of publishing, data by the World Health Organization shows that confirmed cases of COVID-19 continue to rise across the MENA region, with Bahrain now at 811 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, out of which four individuals have lost their lives.

In the MENA region, the top five countries with the most cases are Iran (62,589), Turkey (30,217), Saudi Arabia (2,795), the United Arab Emirates (2,076), and Qatar (1,832).

Bahrain’s bracelets and app “complements the government’s effort in quickly tracing” new cases of COVID-19, as well as keeping track of active cases and their close contacts.

ON THE RECORD

In a statement, iGA chief executive, Mohammed Ali Al Qaed said that “BeAware” was “an example of how Bahrain is leveraging technology to safeguard the well-being of citizen and residents,” explaining that the “bracelet supports the Ministry of Health’s mandate to address public health concerns during the global pandemic.” 

He continued: “The decision issued by HE the Minister of Health, Faeqa bint Saed Al Saleh, obliges self-isolating individuals to wear the electronic bracelet that will notify the monitoring station when they are 15 metres away from their phone, in which case a warning will be sent.

“The Authority will guide users through the app and all of its features, which requires users to ensure their smart devices are charged and that their location services, Bluetooth, GPS and internet connection is on.”

 

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