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Managing a pandemic – An alternative to smartphone contact tracing apps

The news of smartphone contact tracing app finally being launched dominated the German media in the past few days. The goal of this article is not to review the German application, but to try to explain a simple concept which could be used instead of, or in addition to, smartphone contact tracing apps.

The idea behind smartphone contact tracing apps is to inform people who have been in contact with someone who got infected and tested positively for the virus. The question is, can people who are at risk be notified differently, without the use of tracing apps. Before introducing the alternative concept, here are some initial assumptions.

First, some restrictions in a pandemic probably can’t be avoided. Social distancing, wearing face masks or avoiding unnecessary travel are measures we’ll have to accept. Besides, we may have to restrict many of the non-essential activities (indoor sports, restaurants visits etc.)

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