Pakistan's "patient zero" stigmatized after data leak
As the first confirmed coronavirus case in Pakistan, Yahyah Jaffery became a pariah after his identity, photograph, and home address were leaked on social media. Similar leaks about dozens of other patients and medical staff followed. The contact tracing system being used for coronavirus was originally developed by the country's Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI) to combat terrorism; it is based on a new data hub in Islamabad that will collect information from the ISI tracking system and share details about COVID-19 cases with the country's four provincial governments, information technology institutions, and civil and military organisations.
The telecom regulator is contributing by using cell tower tracking to send infected individuals and the country's 500,000 at-risk people text messages warning them to self-isolate. The country has no data protection laws, and licenced telecom providers are required to provide customer data to government agencies for national security or when told to do so by the regulator.
Five hundred thousand people have also downloaded a government-issued opt-in mobile app that uses GPS to alert individuals if there is a COVID-19 patient within 32 yards.
Writer: Ramsha Jahangir