Mobile technology facilitating social distance in the middle of a pandemic

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Mr. Pedro Henrique Graciotto Pontes Ivantes and Ana Flávia Cury Ivantes, two fourth-year medical students at a university in southern Brazil. They are affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writers and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.

At the end of 2019 the world was faced with a potential enemy. Named SARS-CoV-2, the virus of the coronavirus family in just a few months went from a local danger in Wuhan in China to a devastating global pandemic. COVID-19, a disease caused by the aforementioned virus, mainly affects the respiratory tract of the infected individual, causing symptoms based mainly on fever, fatigue, dry cough, anorexia, myalgia, dyspnoea and sputum production, with diarrhea and vomiting more rare symptoms. Transmission occurs largely through the respiratory droplets of the infected individual that reach the mucosa of the new host, a very frequent event in situations of interpersonal contact and agglomerations. There is still no clear line of treatment for this infection, making management mostly symptomatic. The best weapon to fight the pandemic is to promote early diagnosis and social detachment, making mass testing indicated and implemented whenever possible.

In view of this, cities spread across the globe adopt restrictive measures aimed at decreasing the rate of transmissibility of the virus. In Brazil, the second country with the highest number of cases, where more than 2 million people are infected, technology has served as a tool to promote social isolation. Health departments have adopted a new way for individuals to follow the results of their exam without having to go to the health unit and, consequently, preventing them from contaminating other people. Through websites and applications, the population suspected of having SARS-CoV-2 infection becomes aware of the results of their examinations within their own homes, while the system itself already informs the Center for Strategic Information in Health Surveillance so that positivized are monitored in their home isolations. Consequently, the possible contacts that the infected person would have on the way to search for the results of their exams are avoided, thus decreasing the transmissibility of the disease.

As a quick systematic review by Cochrane says, it is clear that isolated measures of social distance do not have much effect. However, when combined with other safety measures, they have the ability to obtain effective control of the disease. The average transmission rate of COVID-19 can be calculated using the basic number of reproduction (R0), several studies have shown that interventions of social distance added to those of disease control decrease this rate to less than 1, which in other words means that one person transmits the disease to less than another person, a fact necessary to reduce the number of cases of the disease. It is concluded, therefore, that the implementation of the technology to visualize the results of the test for the diagnosis of COVID-19 when added to other control measures is capable of decreasing the transmissibility of SARS-CoV-2, slowing down the progression of the pandemic.


AQUINO, E. M. L.; SILVEIRA, I. H.; PESCARINI, J. M.; AQUINO, R.; SOUZA-FILHO, J. A.; ROCHA, A. S. et al. Medidas de distanciamento social no controle da pandemia de COVID-19: potenciais impactos e desafios no Brasil. Ciênc. saúde coletiva vol.25  supl.1 Rio de Janeiro June 2020  Epub June 05, 2020. Available from: <>. Access from: 22 july 2020.

GUAN, W.; Ni Z.; Hu Y.; et al.; Clinical characteristics of 2019 novel coronavirus infection in China. MedRxiv. 2020. [Access from 22 july 2020].

MCLNTOSH, K.; Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). UpToDate. Abril 2020. [Access from 21 july 2020].

NUSSBAUMER-STREIT B, MAYR V, DOBRESCU AI, CHAPMAN A, PERSAD E, KLERINGS I, WAGNER G, SIEBERT U, CHRISTOF C, ZACHARIAH C, GARTLEHNER G. Quarantine alone or in combination with other public health measures to control COVID-19: a rapid review. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2020; 4:CD013574. Access from 22 july 2020.

Secretarias Estaduais de Saúde. Brasil, 2020. [Access from 22 july 2020]. Available from:

SOHRABI C, ALSAFI Z, O’NEILL N, et al. World Health Organization declares global emergency: A review of the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) [published correction appears in Int J Surg. 2020 May;77:217]. Int J Surg. 2020;76:71-76. [Access from 20 july 2020].

SUN P, LU X, XU C, SUN W, PAN B. Understanding of COVID-19 based on current evidence. J Med Virol. 2020;92(6):548-551. [Access from 20 july 2020].

About the authors

Pedro Henrique Graciotto Pontes Ivantes and Ana Flávia Cury Ivantes are
fourth-year medical students at a university in southern Brazil. Pedro is the
current president of Academic Athletic Association of Medicine in Maringá
(AAAMC), which aims at cooperation between students through social and
sporting actions, as well as promoting actions to help vulnerable populations. Ana is a member of the academic league of Gastroenterology, Maternal and Child Health and Oncology and Hematology. Both academics believe in scientific research as a source of promotion of health-related information and a quality medical future, based mainly on person-centered medical care.

the sting Milestones

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Make this the year of ‘transformative solutions’ to avert disastrous climate change: UN Deputy Chief

Women in medical leadership: future perspectives of medicine

Further reforms in Sweden can drive growth, competitiveness and social cohesion

Robot inventors are on the rise. But are they welcomed by the patent system?

Brazilian officer a ‘stellar example’ of why more women are needed in UN peacekeeping

Commissioner McGuinness announces proposed way forward for central clearing

Syria: Commissioner Lenarčič visits Turkish border and calls for renewal of UN cross-border resolution

4 principles for securing the digital identity ecosystem

UN chief praises New Zealand premier’s ‘admirable’ response to Christchurch attacks

Why 2020 is a turning point for cybersecurity

COVID-19 tests rely on bacteria discovered in a natural pool in the 1960s – and it’s not the only slice of nature essential to medicine

Migration: Commission refers HUNGARY to the Court of Justice of the European Union over its failure to comply with Court judgment

Q&A: A on the EU COVID-19 certificate

Working with millennials, leaders say humility works better than bossing around

How Abu Dhabi found a way to grow vegetables in 40-degree heat

Russia and the EU ‘trade’ natural gas supplies and commercial concessions in and out of Ukraine

Eurozone’s central bank leadership prepares for shoddier prospects

Workplace bullies could now go to jail in South Korea

Biggest ever UN aid delivery in Syria provides relief to desperate civilians

Negotiations on new EU collective redress rules to begin

Why we are using these custom-built drones to collect whale snot

For video game addiction, now read official ‘gaming disorder’: World Health Organization

Ebola cases rising in DR Congo, but UN health agency cites progress in community trust-building

Antibiotics are contaminating the world’s rivers

British PM May’s Brexit proposal remains obscure while her government unravels

The EU Parliament blasts the Council about the tax dealings of the wealthy

5 lessons from Africa on how drones could transform medical supply chains

More people now plan to get a COVID-19 vaccine than in December

Turkey: Commission continues humanitarian support for refugees

Only one in five countries has a healthcare strategy to deal with climate change

Africa must use tech to chase corruption out of the shadows

Mergers: Commission approves Assa Abloy’s acquisition of Agta Record, subject to conditions

World’s human rights watchdog spotlights Afghanistan, Yemen and 12 others: Here’s the scoop

US-China trade war: Washington now wants control of the renminbi-yuan

ECB: Growth measures even before the German elections

Z, V or ‘Nike swoosh’ – what shape will the COVID-19 recession take?

Cultural diversity can drive economies. Here are lessons from India and South Asia

EU Member States test their cybersecurity preparedness for free and fair EU elections

This is how music festivals are tackling plastic waste

Malta: Human rights experts call for justice in case of murdered journalist

3 things to know about women in STEM

Q and A: This is how stakeholder capitalism can help heal the planet

10 months were not enough for the EU to save the environment but 2 days are

These are the top 10 emerging technologies of 2019

Why EU’s working and unemployed millions remain uncertain or even desperate about their future

Europe again the black sheep at the G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors

FROM THE FIELD: Changing world, changing families

The relationship between Dengue and the rainfall in Boa Vista, Brazil

EU, Canada and China co-host international meeting on climate cooperation and a sustainable economic recovery

Why is black plastic packaging so hard to recycle?

Raising the Scope of Sexual and Reproductive Health Services in Vulnerable Populations

Companies can help solve water scarcity. Here’s how

A new bioeconomy strategy for a sustainable Europe

Giving humanitarian help to migrants should not be a crime, according to the EP

European Solidarity Corps: three years on

Marriage equality boosted employment of both partners in US gay and lesbian couples

The West and Russia accomplished the dismembering and the economic destruction of Ukraine

State aid: Commission approves €1.4 billion Swedish scheme to support uncovered fixed costs of companies affected by coronavirus outbreak

Gaza: deadly violence continues to escalate, top UN officials work to restore calm

EU food watchdog: more transparency, better risk prevention

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: