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 Milestone

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

At Arab League Summit, Guterres reaffirms strong link between UN and people of Arab world

Mixed news about the Eurozone economy

Climate change update: consistent global actions urgently needed as we are running out of time

How fungi could save the world

Fostering defence innovation through the European Defence Fund

Only a few months away from the single European patent space

EU Banks still get subsidies from impoverished citizens

UN gender agency hails record-breaking number of women in new US Congress as ‘historic victory’

European Citizens’ Initiative: Commission decides to register 2 new initiatives

Germany resists Macron’s plan for closer and more cohesive Eurozone; Paris and Berlin at odds

General Data Protection Regulation shows results, but work needs to continue

How water scarcity triggers the refugee crisis – and what tech can do to solve it

Globalization 4.0 must build a better world for working people

3 trends that will transform the energy industry

Why medicine is relevant to the battle against climate change

COP21 Breaking News_04 December: Launch of CREWS, climate risk & early warning systems

AI can help us unlock the world’s most complex operating system – the human body

Anti-vaccine sentiment one of 10 biggest health threats, says WHO

UN agency chiefs condemn Saudi-coalition led air strike that killed dozens in western Yemen

The EU can afford to invest trillions in support of employment

European Energy Union: Integration of markets and need for in-house energy production

Asia-Pacific ‘regional parliament’ underway to advance equality, empowerment, for more than four billion citizens

Commission to decide on bank resolution issues

Mental health and suicide prevention: the contradictory access in a reference city of southern Brazil

How building renovations can speed up the electric vehicle revolution

UN chief urges ‘maximum restraint’ following policy shift over northeastern Syria

A young student discusses the determinants of migration in the European Union

Corruption undermines democracy and contributes to instability, warns senior UN anti-crime official

These EU countries have the most government debt

Mali: Presidential elections critical to consolidate democracy, says UN peacekeeping chief

104 countries have laws that prevent women from working in some jobs

Will Qualcomm avoid Broadcom’s hostile takeover post the 1 bn euro EU antitrust fine?

Time to say goodbye to the plastic straw. But what’s the best alternative?

IMF: How can Eurozone avoid stagnation

UN agencies welcome regional road map to help integrate ‘continuing exodus of Venezuelans’

ECB’s first flight in Eurozone’s banking universe will be just a reconnaissance

European Citizens’ Initiative: Commission registers ‘End the Cage Age’ initiative

The Fourth Industrial Revolution is about to hit the construction industry. Here’s how it can thrive

Deal on protecting workers from exposure to harmful substances

New volunteering programme for young people in Europe and beyond agreed

Lifting the lid on policy decisions across Africa

Venezuela, Poland and Sudan amongst 14 new Human Rights Council members

The European Youth raises their voices this week in Brussels at Yo!Fest 2015

As Marvel’s first comic book fetches $1.26 million, here are five things to know about the superhero business

First EU collective redress mechanism to protect consumers

UN ‘comes together in sadness and solidarity’ to honour staff who died on board Ethiopian Airlines flight

COVID19 Pandemic: The Mental Health of Colored Chicks

Assembly President launches new initiative to purge plastics and purify oceans

Spending another 3 billion euros on Turkey feels better than admitting EU’s failure

EU security and defence industry prepares positions for ‘producers’ and ‘customers’

Impact Investment needs global standards and better measurement

New phenomena in the EU labour market

LGBTQ+: The invisible poor on our healthcare

Kors and Nyong’o: Food, fashion and film join forces at UN, for the world’s hungry

Youth unemployment: think out of the box

Team Europe: EU provides €100 million to Mozambique for education, health and social protection

EU Citizenship Report: empowering citizens and protecting their rights

EU leaders let tax-evaders untouched

COVID-19 highlights how caregiving fuels gender inequality

UN heath agency: Time is now to ‘act as one’ in fighting infectious coronavirus

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