President Cyril Ramaphosa is scanned on a visit to the health department’s Covid-19 information centre in Pretoria on April 9. Picture: GCIS
President Cyril Ramaphosa is scanned on a visit to the health department’s Covid-19 information centre in Pretoria on April 9. Picture: GCIS

President Cyril Ramaphosa said he is “hugely impressed” by the efforts of the department of health and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) to use technology to track the spread of Covid-19 in the country.

Ramaphosa visited the health department’s Covid-19 information centre, a data centre set up to monitor and track the spread of the coronavirus, at the CSIR in Pretoria on Thursday where he was briefed on mechanisms to track the government’s response to the pandemic.

“I was hugely impressed to see how we are able, through the facility we have here, to look at the entire country and see how we can get data and information about the incidents of infection of the coronavirus throughout the country,” Ramaphosa said.

“More important is how we are able through science and technology to drill it down to provincial, district, municipality, ward level and street level as they track the people that are infected,” he said.

Ramaphosa was shown how the government is able to provide close to real-time analytics and dashboards on the coronavirus outbreak per province, district, local municipality and ward.

“As a nation, we should be proud that we have an institution like the CSIR which is always trying to be ahead of the curve in terms of bringing solutions for the nations to utilise,” Ramaphosa said.

The CSIR has also mapped which areas across the country are most vulnerable to the contagion.

Data mined and mapped at the information centre is used by the national command council, chaired by Ramaphosa, in decision-making.

The president was given details of the Cmore App, which is to be used by community health workers to record screening data and symptoms and transmit information to the centre.

The app enables a near-live display of the household screening and testing programme. 

A total 20,000 workers will have phones with an app “to enable us to get data to this centre … in real time as they input data and screen people”, Ramaphosa said.

He thanked Vodacom for coming on board with 20,000 phones that have the app to be used by health-care workers.

Vodacom CEO Shameel Joosub handed over one of the phones to be distributed to Ramaphosa.

The president said though he had announced that 10,000 officials would conduct screenings countrywide, due to the donation it will be ramped up to 20,000.

Ramaphosa said the staff operating the information centre are the “unsung heroes” working 16 to 18 hours a day to ensure all data related to Covid-19 is tracked.

“I was particularly pleased to see that they have already tracked all hospitals. All beds that are available, all B&B and hotels can be utilised for isolation centres, quarantine centres,” he said.