[WATCH] PN calls for introduction of contact tracing apps to prevent future COVID-19 spread

Nationalist MP Ivan J Bartolo urges government to use technology to control a possible second wave of coronavirus

The PN has called for the increased use of technology to control a possible second wave of COVID-19
The PN has called for the increased use of technology to control a possible second wave of COVID-19

The Nationalist Party has put forward a number of measures aimed at making better use of technology to control a possible second wave of COVID-19.

With Malta's new infection numbers having remained low in the past few days, the PN said that the country should still strive to do its best to limit any further spread of the coronavirus.

PN MP Ivan J Bartolo called for the rapid development of a mobile app to be used for contact tracing, which could be at first used voluntarily, but could become obligatory if the circumstances called for it.

Noting that privacy and legal obligations would have to be in place for the operation of such an app - including the safeguarding of everyone's identifying information, according to EU rules - Bartolo said this would allow health authorities to keep close tabs on any spread of the virus.

The PN's spokesperson on digital society also called for the deployment of automated bots, including on platforms such as Facebook, to keep people informed of all COVID-19 measures and precuations as well as on which symptoms indicate one could be infected with the virus.

When it came to the elderly, the PN MP said the elderly may have in the past weeks - due to having been forced into isolation - struggled when it came to taking their medication and the right time and dosage. He said an automatic pill dispensing machine, which would ensure the right amount medicines was dispensed at the correct time, could be provided to the country's senior citizens.

PN MP and investment spokesperson Kristy Debono underlined that monitoring the spread of COVID-19 and ensuring the protection of people's health remained a priority, as she urged the government to immediately approve digital contact tracing protocols which were being discussed within EU forums.

She emphasised the importance of further invesment in the digital transformation, which had proved important in terms of businesses adapting to the current social isolation realities of COVID-19.

"It's important for the government to be proactive and invest in digital transformation, which would have result in a strong value added," she said.

Turning to small businesses, she said the government should issue an expression of interest for delivery services to enable such firms to start offering online shopping which would allow them to compete with foreign internet shopping portals.

Debono also noted that the EU had provided €5.3 million in COVID-19 funds to Malta to invest in research and development. "Access to such funds should be facilitated, since assistance is needed now. The government should launch a helpline to answer people's questions on how they can access such funds," she added.

Addressing the conference, PN MP Karl Gouder said one way of implementing some of the Bartolo and Debono's proposals was through using local governments.

"One way of putting them is place is by being community based," the PN's local councils spokesperson said, "A lot of these services can be offered through local councils, even those related to health."