Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, nations around the world adopted various digital health interventions for public health response. Emergency response strategies worldwide leveraged mobile technologies in various ways to contain the spread of the virus, curtail damage and ease the burden on healthcare systems working to meet the medical needs of COVID-19 patients and providing essential healthcare services, simultaneously.

AKDN dHRC promptly contributed to the response efforts by developing and launching the CoronaCheck mobile app in efforts to curb COVID-19 infection rates and reduce footfall at the Aga Khan Development Network health facilities.

It is an Android-based mobile application, which consists of a self-assessment tool to help the general population safely screen themselves at home. To raise awareness among the masses and fight the COVID-19 “infodemic,” the app is equipped with educational videos.

The self-assessment tool is an interactive Artificial Intelligence (AI) -based survey, which enables users to determine their risk of acquiring the disease based on an intelligent analysis of their responses regarding their symptoms and medical history. A counseling preface then guides the user to either take appropriate physical distancing measures or to get tested. The location of the nearest testing centre and a list of national helplines is also provided. The educational videos are sourced from the World Health Organization (WHO) and focus on physical distancing measures, symptoms of the virus and how to spread infection.

CoronaCheck was launched in April 2020 in Pakistan and received significant media coverage as the first of its kind digital self-screening application of the country. The launch was followed by implementation in Tanzania in May 2020, in Tajikistan in June 2020, in Kenya in August 2020 and in Mozambique in October 2020. The application along with the self- assessment tool is translated into the local languages, i.e., Urdu for Pakistan, Swahili for East Africa and Tajik for Tajikistan, to help populations gain a comprehensive understanding of the virus and methods to lower their risk of infection from an authentic source. An audio feature is also included in the local languages to enhance accessibility and interaction.

Until December 2020, there were 40,000+ application downloads, while 74,848 users completed self-assessment through CoronaCheck. The self-assessment tool results reveal that 26.8% of those who attempted the survey were suggested to seek immediate medical care (Plan A), while 27.4% were advised to seek non-urgent care through teleconsultations, without visiting a health facility (Plan B) and 45.3% were advised to only take precautions and social distancing measures (Plan C). CoronaCheck was able to help prevent unnecessary hospital visits in 73% of the cases, curbing risk of spread, while also ensuring that diagnostic testing in health facilities are only availed by those need it most.

CoronaCheck, available on the Google Play Store, aims to strengthen existing health systems by addressing the need for rapid and early testing, screening and awareness raising during the pandemic. This leads reduced number of visits to health facilities, thereby ensuring critical resources such as testing kits and health workers’ time are allocated toward those most in need. Further plans are to launch the application in Afghanistan and Syria under the COVID-19 Innovation Research Project