A group of students, including a research scholar from the Biomedical Engineering Department of Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in Ropar, have come up with a mobile application called ‘MANU’ which can be used by individuals to track whether they have been in contact with people who have tested positive for COVID-19 since they installed the app.

The group of students, who created this application as employees of the startup Lagon Innovation Private Limited, developed the MANU application apprehending the commencement of stage three of the COVID-19 pandemic, which involves community transmission. Though there have been no officially confirmed case of community transmission in India, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare acknowledged in a recent SOP that India is in the phase of ‘local transmission and limited community transmission’. “We realised that there is a need for such technology and developed the model within a span of a week,” says Ankita Dey, the research scholar from IIT Ropar.

“Another application called KAVACH by the government based on a similar theme is already out there. But that app is not accurate in terms of contact tracing. It looks at longitudes as well as latitudes so it unnecessarily puts a lot of people in the contact bracket. This will accurately measure if you have been within one-metre distance of the COVID-19 positive individual,” adds Dey. The scholar explains that the app was titled MANU as an abbreviation of ‘Manushay’ and “symbolises the Indian mythical progenitor of humanity who saved the world by building a boat during the great flood.”

The application works by maintaining a record of all those with whom an individual has been in close contact with. “Suppose if A had close contact with B in a crowded street, and the next day it turns out B tested positive, then A will be informed about his or her contact history so they can take relevant measures to take care of their health and prevent its spread further,” explains Dey.

However, for the application to work successfully, everyone in the community will have to download it, and the developers will require access to official records on number of cases and it will need to be updated in real time through government sources. “We have been in talks with government officials,” says Dey.

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