Passive contact tracing and social distancing assessment for COVID-19

Dong, Xiaodai | $50,000

British Columbia University of Victoria 2020 NSERC Alliance COVID-19 Grant

The COVID‑19 pandemic has brought enormous damage to public health and global economy, and is the greatest challenge we are facing for the next two or three years. COVID‑19 is a new infectious disease and currently there is no drugs or vaccine. Social distancing has become one of the most effective protection measures. The virus SARS-CoV-2 is transmitted very efficiently. Without intervention, the reproductive number is between 2 to 3. The median incubation period is about 5 days (up to 14 days), but people are able to spread the virus 2 days before they become ill until they recover. If people were exposed to an infected person at the early infectious stage, we have only one to three days to find the close contacts before they become infectious. The window of opportunity to act by finding those people and asking them to quarantine and stop the exponential transmission chains is very short. The public health systems have to respond very quickly to COVID‑19 cases. Mounting evidence shows that enclosed indoor spaces such as home, offices, transport, restaurants, etc., are the most fertile ground for virus spread. Social distancing and contact tracing are vital to contain virus transmission in every business and organization as reopening begins. Contact tracing is a daunting task for the scale required and organizations employing tracing tools at workplace can cooperate with the health departments to manage COVID‑19 efficiently. In this project, UVic researchers and Acentury Inc. will develop a privacy preserved WiFi based system in the fight of COVID-19, to achieve

1) Passive indoor contact tracing in spatial and temporal dimensions;

2) Assessment of in-building social distancing practice;

3) Environment contamination mapping for deep disinfection.

The technologies developed facilitate workplace COVID‑19 management on a business, professional or government organization’s premises. The results can be quickly shared with health authorities in cases of infections or outbreaks, as directed by the organization policy.

With funding from the Government of Canada

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