Role of Technology During Covid-19 Pandemic
Written by Johnson Mwangangi & Allan Kai 18/04/2020
It goes without saying that with the recent Covid-19 pandemic , technology has played a huge role in influencing the actions of people positively, negatively and in some cases, weirdly absurd ways. Casing point; sometimes late last month some message went round claiming that a child had been born and it declared that black tea without sugar cures or helps prevent the corona virus.
Whether it was the stress from quarantining or the curfew or people just having too much time on their hands, some actually fell for the hoax. Now, it goes without saying that no sooner had the fake news come out than the government was quick to debunk the theory calling it fake.
In any case, this goes to show the impact social media and the smart phone has on the spread of information, or in this case misinformation. Technology giant Facebook which has bought the rights to social media platform WhatsApp, the most common way to share information in Kenya these days, has not come up with ways to try and limit if not totally curb the spread of false information online. They are trying however. As a preventive measure, WhatsApp restricts the forwarding of messages to more than five people or five group chats at once. By doing so they shorten the leash on spreading of potentially dangerous false information.
The world has surely become a global village thanks to the internet. With this in mind, in the United States of America companies such as Google and Apple have teamed up to do what is called “contact tracing” where if someone tests positive for the Corona virus, people they interacted with, using the data on their phones, can be traced and measures taken to prevent further spreading of the virus. At the same time, Google is releasing weekly reports which show people in Africa have for the most part not changed much of their daily interactions during this pandemic.
While the internet proves to be a haven for all sorts of information, and with the major contributors being at the fore front in trying to demystify the corona virus and putting the right information out there, other companies have taken it upon themselves to modify their technology in order to make medical equipment that would assist in treating patients that fall ill from the virus. Car manufacturers worldwide have taken to the production of ventilators which are becoming more and more scarce. They are believed to have the right tech and production capabilities to mass produce these important pieces of equipment.
Innovation has not fallen short with the creativity that has come with the production of face masks. DIY videos have surfaced on the internet showing people how to make medically approved face masks which the government has made mandatory for those in high risk areas to wear at all times while in public.
Another way technology is helping in during these times is when it comes to learning methods. The government has implemented an online mode of learning that is meant to ensure that learning is uninterrupted. The Education Cabinet Secretary Prof. George Magoha has even hinted that the examinations calender may not be affected thanks to developments in the online learning department.
When it comes to normal everyday living, technology has played a huge part in helping people work from home, religious gatherings happening in virtual spaces and the frequent use of communication applications to keep in touch with loved ones. Technology has continued to keep us close and sane, for the most part.
With all that said and done, accurate information on the status of the corona virus pandemic can be found in the World Health Organization website, where daily updates are posted and methods of prevention are continuously explained. Also the Ministry of Health has developed a USSD based system where you dial *719# which gives accurate information about the virus and ways of prevention. Ultimately it is up to every individual to take it upon themselves to make sure they heed to the governments directives.