The Ehteraz app, which will help track disease transmission chains, alert individuals and stakeholders to expedite the provision of medical support and prioritizing testing, is now available for download in Apple app store.
The app will be soon available on Android play store also
“EHTERAZ is your trusted smart application to follow up on the latest updates of COVID-19 Coronavirus in Qatar. EHTERAZ has been designed and developed in the Ministry of Interior to support all categories of the Qatari community to spread the health awareness tips and techniques as well as the protection methods that are necessary to halt the outbreak of Coronavirus,” the app info page said.
“This smart tool is also meant to give a hand to those people that are responsible for their families in their endeavors to protect their love ones, and to support healthcare and related entities in order to protect the safety of individuals and that of the Qatari community from this pandemic virus at large,” it added.
The Supreme Committee for Crisis Management had said in a press briefing two weeks back that the app will help curb the spread of Coronavirus (Covid-19)
The app will help to:
1. Follow-up on those who are in quarantine and ensure their permanent presence at home or hotel during the period.
2. Official bodies can reach as quickly as possible the persons suspected of being infected and provide the necessary health care.
3. Will alert if coming in contact with infected people.
The app will colour tag and show if tested, negative, positive etc using a QR code.
By sourcing health information automatically from ministry database, the profile of each user is linked to the QR code shown according to the following categories:
Green: Healthy individuals with no symptoms or those with negative outcomes. Grey: Suspected cases, individuals who have symptoms, or are in contact with positive cases and have not been examined. Yellow: It is intended for personnel in quarantine facilities Red: For individuals who have been tested and the result is positive
EHTERAZ app: Frequently asked questions
What is the EHTERAZ app and what does it do?
EHTERAZ (“precaution”) is a risk detector app for the use of citizens and residents living in Qatar. It is the result of the joint effort of different Ministries in the State of Qatar. The application assists in identifying disease transmission chains, alerting individuals, and stakeholders to expedite the provision of medical support and prioritizing testing.
Users of the app will be able to learn his/her health status through QR Health Code displayed on the app.
According to H.E. Lolwah Al Khater during the press conference, “all of this information is connected to a database and if a case of coronavirus infection is discovered, the application enables the competent authorities to track the areas where this person was present since downloading the application until the moment of infection and thus all people or a large percentage of the people who mix with them can be known as long they are using the same application. After identifying these people, they will receive messages through the application that they may have had contact with an infected person and will have priority in the testing”, she added.
Users will also have access to the latest developments and statistics related to COVID-19 in Qatar. Click here to know more about the features of the app and the different QR health codes.
While there is no official infographic yet that illustrates how the EHTERAZ app makes use of Bluetooth and location in contact tracing, you can find some helpful infographics from the following to help you understand how contact tracing apps work: nature.com; Google | Apple.
Do I really need to download the EHTERAZ app?
Yes. This is one of the latest precautionary measures issued by the Cabinet on May 18, 2020. According to the announcement, all citizens and residents are obligated to install the EHTERAZ application on smartphones when leaving the house for any reason. This decision is effective from Friday, May 22, 2020, until further notice.
Is your child under 18 years old? Click here to learn if they are required to have the EHTERAZ app too.
After installation and opening the app for the first time, you will be asked to allow the app to use Bluetooth, to send notifications, and to change location authorization to ‘Always’ from the settings.
Press the START button.
Choose language and press ACCEPT after reading the Terms & Conditions.
You will be asked to type in your mobile number, QID number, and QID expiration date. Press the REGISTER button.
An OTP number will be sent to your mobile number. Enter it on the space provided on the app to complete the registration.
You will then be able to see what is your QR Health Code and will now be able to use the app.
Which hotline number can I call to ask about the app?
For all technical related questions and inquiries, you can call the Qatar Government Contact Center 109. It is available 24/7 and available in 9 different languages. 109 QGCC is the official and unified hotline supporting Qatar government e-services.
For Apple users, the app requires iOS 13.1 or later. It is compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. As for Android, it requires Android 6.0 and up. Before downloading the app, make sure you update your phone’s software first.
Only two languages are currently available, Arabic and English. You can choose the preferred language after installing the application on your phone.
Why are there more app permissions for EHTERAZ in Android than on iPhone?
For iPhone, these are the settings that Ehteraz will ask you to allow to access:
Siri & Search
Background App Refresh
Compared to the iPhone, the Android version of the app needs more permissions but we must also remember that they run on different operating systems.
He also explained that the app needs access to the storage and files because it needs to put the Bluetooth identification files in the internal memory and then upload them to the application servers which is understandable and natural. He continued that the iOS system does the same.
The state regulations and legislation referred to in the About page of the application are the following:
Why does the app need Bluetooth and location to be always turned on?
According to the pop-up text once the app is opened, Bluetooth is used by the app for contract tracing with different users of the same app for COVID-19 prevention. The MOI replied on Google Play reviews that it is used to help identify if the person near you has been quarantined or infected.
In the FAQ section of the app, it says that the application will not work without Bluetooth being enabled.
Why does it need access to storage?
According to the Ministry of Interior’s reply on Google Play Store reviews, the storage permission is required to check the rooted or jailbroken device for security.
What if my phone cannot update to iOS 13.1 and up or Android 6.0 and up?
We called 109 regarding this matter and according to the contact center staff we talked to, if you cannot change your phone, there is no solution for this as of the moment as this is currently the minimum requirement of the mobile application for it to work. We have also sent an email to Hukoomi, the Qatar e-Government Portal, and have yet to receive a reply. We will have to wait for the next update if they will be able to fix this.
App keeps crashing and showing error
The 109 contact center staff advised restarting the phone as well as uninstalling and reinstalling the application.
I’m on a visit/tourist visa. How can I use the app?
In a recent update of the app, non-QID holders can now register and use the EHTERAZ app. As the app requires a valid QID number for you to register, it is currently not possible for people who do not have QID to use the app, according to 109. Note: We will be updating as soon as the Ministry updates about this.
My QID is expired. How can I register?
After the June 6 update of EHTERAZ on Android, we reached out to 109 regarding expired QID. They said that with the new update, one can use the QID to register even if it’s expired. As stated above, the app requires a valid QID number. According to 109, you need to first have your QID renewed. QID can be renewed using Metrash2 app or the Ministry of Interior’s e-services portal. Check here for the steps on how to renew QID online.
How can I access the app if I don’t have cellular data when I’m outside?
Not to worry because according to Ooredoo, downloading and using the app will be free of charge. In addition, Vodafone mentioned that all data usage charges have been removed to guarantee that everyone has access to the latest developments regarding the virus.
What are the improvements that users want to see in the next update?
From the reviews and comments of current users, one major issue is that the app drains the battery quickly and causes the phone to overheat.
There are also first time users who keep getting error during the registration, with some having problems during OTP and with some reporting that their QID is said to be expired when it is not.
Some have also mentioned getting the error message “your phone seems to be a simulator or jailbroken“.
The majority of Android users of the app are also requesting clarification on the app permissions specifically why does the app needs access to Storage and Photos, bringing up privacy and transparency concerns. Users are also hopeful for more explanation about the app, with some citing Singapore’s website for its contact tracing app as a good example.
EHTERAZ is the official contact tracing application for the State of Qatar and is owned, operated, and approved by the Ministry of Public Health.
ETHERAZ aims to protect and safeguard the health of citizens, residents, and visitors in the State of Qatar to support the national effort in preventing and reducing the spread of COVID-19.
ETHERAZ has been developed to:
1) Provide alerts or notifications when members of the public are exposed to a suspected, infected, or confined person through prompt, accurate, digital contact tracing.
2) Provide a visual QR code showing infection and/or vaccine status (when available) to other individuals for safe interaction with the wider community.
3) Identify locations with high infection rates in order for the relevant authorities to provide prompt action to prevent further spread and higher risk exposure to members of the public.
4) Provide official announcements on health, social distancing, containment efforts, and up to date COVID-19 statistics.
The Ministry of Public Health wants all users of the application to feel safe when using ETHERAZ and is committed to maintaining each individual’s privacy and confidentiality by using only the necessary minimum amount of information, personal data, and device permissions required to function and protect the citizens and residents of the State of Qatar.
EHTERAZ requires permission to use:
• Bluetooth signals for the exchange of anonymized IDs with devices in close proximity that also have EHTERAZ installed. This information is used for contact tracing to alert individuals who are at risk of infection.
• Background location services to always know where the device is, in order to better identify areas with a high infection rate and take prompt action to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
• Local device storage when not connected to the internet to hold contact and location information until the user is back online.
ETHERAZ is for the benefit of all of us. Working together we can keep our neighbors, our colleagues, our friends, and our families safe.
Contact Tracing in EHTERAZ APP
When two registered users come within Bluetooth range of each other, their EHTERAZ Apps will automatically exchange anonymized ID with devices in close proximity. This information is used for contact tracing to alert individuals who are at risk of infection.