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DAILY NEWS ANALYSIS

  • 26 April, 2020

  • 5 Min Read

Reverse quarantine

Reverse quarantine

Part of: GS-II- Governance and Health (PT-MAINS-PERSONALITY TEST)

Reserve quarantine is a practice of detaching the most vulnerable people, aged or people with co-morbidity conditions, from the rest and monitoring their health indicators closely to protect them from infection. The government is working on it as part of its multi pronged strategy against Covid 19.Through this, in case of a community spread, it can isolate its large volume of grey population and check their mortality rate effectively.

According to expert opinion, only reverse quarantine is effective until half of the population recovers from COVID-19 and gains immunity or a vaccine or medicine is developed. Government plans to implement reverse quarantine as soon as more lockdown measures are eased. Officials said the mechanism will be implemented through local bodies and they will be tasked with providing medicine, food, counselling and other assistance.

CQAS

The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has shared a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) with all telecom service providers regarding the application called COVID-19 Quarantine Alert System (CQAS).

  • CQAS collects phone data, including the device’s location, on a common secured platform and alerts the local agencies in case of a violation by COVID patients under watch or in isolation.

Imp Points

  • Developed By: The DoT and the Centre for Development of Telematics (C-DOT), in coordination with telecom service providers, have developed and tested the application.
  • Working:
    • The CQAS prepares a list of mobile numbers, segregates them on the basis of telecom service providers, and the location data provided by the telecom companies is run on the application to create geo-fencing.
      • Geo-fencing is a location-based service in which an app or other software uses GPS, RFID, Wi-Fi or cellular data to trigger a pre-programmed action when a mobile device or RFID tag enters or exits a virtual boundary set up around a geographical location, known as a geofence.
      • Geo-fencing will only work if the quarantined person has a mobile phone from Airtel, Vodafone-Idea or Reliance Jio, as “BSNL/MTNL” do not support location-based services. BSNL and MTNL are government owned.
    • The location information is received periodically over a secure network for the authorised cases with “due protection of the data received”.
    • The System triggers e-mails and SMS alerts to an authorised government agency if a person has jumped quarantine or escaped from isolation, based on the person’s mobile phone’s cell tower location. The “geo-fencing” is accurate by up to 300 m.
  • Use of Powers under the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885
    • The Centre is using powers under the Indian Telegraph Act to “fetch information” from telecom companies every 15 minutes to track COVID-19 cases across the country.
    • The States have been asked to seek the approval of their Home Secretaries under the provisions of Section 5(2) of the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885, for the specified mobile phone numbers to request the DoT to provide information by email or SMS in case of violation of “geo-fencing”.
    • Section 5(2) authorises State or Centre to access information of a user’s phone data in case of “occurrence of any public emergency or in the interest of the public safety.”
  • Protection of Data
    • As per the SOP, the phone number should be deleted from the system after the period for which location monitoring required is over and the data would be deleted four weeks from thereon.
    • The data collected shall be used only for the purpose of Health Management in the context of COVID-19 and is strictly not for any other purposes. Any violation in this regard would attract penal provisions under the relevant laws.

Source: TH/AIR


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