Coronavirus: How South Korea Tracks Patients' Cell Phones

The movements of South Koreans affected by the coronavirus are traced and transmitted to the population. Jung Yeon-i / AFP

Text by: RFI Follow

The South Korean government announced Monday, March 30, 78 new cases of Covid-19 contamination. An encouraging result which shows that Seoul continues to control the epidemic after the peak in early March. These good results can be explained, among other things, by massive screening for all and systematic tracking of each patient infected with the coronavirus, in particular via the geolocation of mobile phones. No “cyber-dictatorship”, these tracings are accepted by the population and very framed by the law. .


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with our correspondent in Seoul, Férédric Ojardias

The South Korean authorities trace the route of each person infected with the virus to the nearest minute. By which restaurant, shop or bus, and what time it passed ... This information is then sent to the smartphone of all residents of the areas visited by the patient.

After a few failures, efforts were made to ensure that these patients could not be identified. And the law strictly regulates this tracing: geolocation data is transmitted directly by telephone operators to the Crisis Management Center. They are stored on servers outside the State and must be destroyed once the crisis has ended. These data are obtained by triangulation of the antennas, and not by access to the GPS data of the telephones.

Understanding Koreans

All those who have passed near an infected person, thus informed, can be tested immediately and placed in quarantine if necessary. Result, the foci of contamination are extinguished before they explode .

This strategy raises few objections. Even if she is very attached to the importance of privacy, the vast majority of Koreans understand the urgency of the situation. South Korea has not used containment measures.

Listen: South Korea: Covid-19 screening stations for motorists

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