Apple teams up with White House on Covid-19 website and app

Tools ask users questions around risk factors, recent exposure and symptoms to provide accurate guidance

FILE PHOTO: The Apple Inc. logo is seen hanging at the entrance to the Apple store on 5th Avenue in Manhattan, New York, U.S., October 16, 2019. REUTERS/Mike Segar/File Photo

Technology giant Apple partnered with the White House and federal agencies to release a new website and app to provide users with a screening tool for Covid-19, making it easier to access up-to-date guidance and information on the virus.

The tech giant released the resources on Friday in partnership with the Centers for Disease Control, the White House-led coronavirus task force and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Apple said in a statement on Friday.

The tool is designed to "make it easy for people across the country to get trusted information and guidance at a time when the US is feeling the heavy burden of Covid-19," Apple said.

Globally, the number of Covid-19 confirmed cases rose to about 616,000 on Saturday and the death toll reached nearly 29,000 while about 136,000 people have recovered, according to the John Hopkins University coronavirus tracker.

The US has 105,000 coronavirus cases, the highest in the world, overtaking Italy and China, and hospitals are struggling to cope with demand for testing thousands of people. On Friday, US-based Abbott Laboratories rolled out a light and portable Covid-19 test that can detect if a person is infected with the virus within five minutes and can be used in a wide range of healthcare settings.

The new Apple website and app, which are available on the App Store, will ask users a series of questions about risk factors, recent exposure and symptoms.

Users then get recommendations from the CDC on next steps-- including guidance on social distancing and self-isolating-- how to closely monitor symptoms, whether to get a test at this time, and when to contact a medical provider.

The resources will offer answers to the most frequently asked questions about Covid-19, including who is most at risk and how to recognize symptoms, and offer CDC information on topics such as best practices for washing hands, disinfecting surfaces and monitoring symptoms.

Apple said the users' responses to the questions on the website and app will not be sent to the company or any government organisations.

The resources are available by downloading the Covid-19 app on the App Store or visiting apple.com/covid19.

Apple emphasized that its new screening tool does not replace instructions from healthcare providers or guidance from state and local health authorities.

Apple’s headquarters in California have been under lockdown orders for more than a week as the state takes measures to contain the spread of the virus.

Tim Cook, Apple's chief executive, said earlier that the company had donated 10 million protective masks to US health care groups.

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