Google Maps launches new feature to show Covid-19 hot spots

CAPE TOWN- While South Africans are encouraged to stay at home as far as possible due to the Covid-19 outbreak, those who do need to travel may soon be able to make use of a new Google Maps feature.

In the latest release of Google Maps on Android and iOS the new feature will provide travellers important Covid-19 information or restrictions they need to know about, whether it’s by car or public transportation. 

Google Maps product management director Ramesh Nagarajan said in a press release that there will be relevant alerts from transit agencies and drivers will receive alerts to notify them about Covid-19 checkpoints and restrictions along their routes.

These transit alerts are for the time being only being rolled out in Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Colombia, France, India, Mexico, Netherlands, Spain, Thailand, United Kingdom and the U.S. and could find its way to South Africa soon. 

Worldwide more than 11.7 million people have contracted Covid-19, according to Johns Hopkins University, and 540,000 have died.

“When you look up public transit directions for a trip that is likely to be affected by Covid-19 restrictions, we’ll show relevant alerts from local transit agencies. These alerts can help you prepare accordingly if government mandates impact transit services or require you to wear a mask on public transportation,” said Nagarajan.

Google Maps receives authoritative data from local, state and federal governments or from their websites.

“When navigating to medical facilities or Covid-19 testing centers, we’ll display an alert reminding you to verify eligibility and facility guidelines to avoid being turned away or causing additional strain on the local healthcare system. Starting this week, alerts for medical facilities will be available in Indonesia, Israel, the Philippines, South Korea, and the U.S,” he said. 

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CORONAVIRUS MONITOR