As governments across the world struggle to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, the Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI) in Pakistan is deploying secret surveillance technology to track coronavirus patients and the people they have come in contact with, AFP reported Thursday.
The tracking technology in question is normally used to locate militants in the country, according to the report.
In April, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan revealed the government had been given access to surveillance technology by the ISI to help track and trace patients. “It (tracking system) was originally (meant to trace) terrorists but we’re using it to tackle coronavirus,” Khan was quoted as saying by news agency PTI last month.
While further details are yet to be revealed, two officials told AFP geo-fencing and phone-monitoring systems that are ordinarily used to hunt high-value targets, including homegrown and foreign militants, are being used to trace COVID-19 positive and suspected cases.
These technologies allow authorities to surveil the movement of patients and those they have been in contact with. An alert will be sent to authorities as soon as someone leaves a specific geographic area.
This has reportedly helped officials monitor neighbourhoods under lockdown.
More than 61,000 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in Pakistan, and as many as 1,260 deaths have been recorded. Due to a lack of awareness and stigma surrounding the illness, several people showing symptoms are not seeking treatment and are even escaping from hospitals, reports suggest.