Government Makes Aarogya Setu App a Must For Its Employees

The Centre has made the use of Aarogya Setu mobile application compulsory for its employees and, according to senior officials, wide use of the app by people in general is necessary if the country has to successfully step out of the lockdown in phases starting May.

A government order on Wednesday said all central government employees and those with PSUs (public sector units) and autonomous bodies should download the app and must review their “status” on the app before starting from home for office.

Based on self-assessment of symptoms and assessing presence of Covid-19 positive or suspect patients in the person’s neighbourhood if Bluetooth is kept on, the app tells whether the person is ‘safe’, ‘low-risk’ or ‘moderate’ and ‘high-risk’. The order said officials should only commute when the app shows ‘safe’ or ‘low-risk’ status and should not come to office and self-isolate for 14 days if they are detected as ‘moderate’ or ‘high-risk”.

A senior government official said that states and private organisations should also adopt the Aarogya Setu app and that the government visualised shopping malls and private offices opting to employ the app in future too as it was the “only large-scale tool available” for screening. “This is necessary if we have to step out of lockdown in a calibrated way in phases. Physical screening and contact tracing of all people may not be possible given the rising volume of infections, and a technology aid is required. Private companies like Zomato and Urban Company have already made use of Aarogya Setu app compulsory for their employees,” said an official, who did not wish to be identified.

The government on Wednesday also ordered that migrant labour and other stranded people to be shifted to their home states also “be encouraged to download Aarogya Setu app through which their health status can be tracked and monitored”.

Officials said the app hence offers two-way protection, for the service providers as well as the customers. This was the reason Prime Minister Narendra Modi was pushing people to download the app and expressed his satisfaction that people were selfdeclaring their symptoms on it, they said.

Aarogya Setu app has seen about 80 million downloads so far. Officials said data is shared on secure government servers on the app if a person’s sample is collected for testing and if tested positive for Covid-19. Privacy experts have raised doubts over the app, though, and said that it is no longer voluntary for at least government employees.

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