How a Blockchain Startup Is Fighting Coronavirus in Honduras

The coronavirus crisis will certainly have lasting impacts, but some measures may prove less harmful than others.

While countries like Israel and China implement coronavirus emergency measures that digitally track civilian location data and health records, an entrepreneur in Honduras developed a blockchain-powered equivalent with an acute focus on privacy.

The bootstrapped startup Emerge is working with the Inter-American Development Bank, the tech company Penta Network and the Emergency Response Unit of the Honduran government to launch an app this week called Civitas. This software program will associate people’s government ID numbers with unique blockchain records they can use for telemedicine and permits to leave the house on specific errands. Roughly 3.2 million people are currently living in lockdown-affected areas of Honduras.

“It’s to better manage how people who are experiencing symptoms circulate,” said Emerge CEO Lucia Gallardo. “The last digits on your ID number determines which days you circulate.”

Just like in Israel, Hondurans who live in lockdown areas can be fined or face criminal charges if they violate quarantine protocols, she said. In the capital city Tegucigalpa, Gallardo said people are only allowed to leave their homes at designated times or for specific tasks. There are time slots each week, such as Monday and Wednesday from 7-9 a.m., when people in each category are allowed to shop for groceries or go out without a permit. Otherwise, civilians require a permit for outdoor errands like visiting the healthcare clinic.

So the Emerge team is rolling out Civitas this week to roughly 25,000 Hondurans, then quickly expanding to all 18 regions of the country with confirmed cases.

If someone feels ill, they will engage with healthcare specialists from the National University of Honduras to determine if their symptoms could be related to the coronavirus. People with such cases are directed to facilities that specialize in treating the…

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