A family wearing face masks in a local market in Zhangjiagang on Feb. 4, 2020. (Image credit: TechNode/ Shi Jiayi)

Search giant Baidu has released a tool allowing people to determine risk levels for infection by Covid-19, a new flu-like virus that has swept China over the past month.

Why it matters: The number of deaths from the disease reached 1,100 on Wednesday, with nearly 44,000 people infected.

  • The virus has caused panic and distrust around the country, with entire gated communities blocking entry to visitors.
  • Meanwhile, many are avoiding going outdoors to lower their risk of infection. Companies around the country have permitted their employees to work remotely.

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Details: The Covid-19 Intelligent Self-Test Tool (our translation) uses the Chinese government’s diagnosis and treatment plan for the virus as well as records from millions of online medical consultations to assess whether a user is at low, moderate, or high risk of having caught the bug.

  • Available within Baidu App, the system uses questions relating to an individual’s age, gender, symptoms, and whether they have traveled to or been around people from Hubei, the province at the center of the outbreak, in order to assess their medical status.
  • The platform functions much like a messaging service, allowing users to input answers to mostly multiple-choice questions.
  • Users are also required to provide information about possible risk factors, including pulmonary diseases, hypertension, and liver and kidney disorders.
  • After analyzing a user’s data, the platform then provides recommendations depending on their risk levels. Those at low risk are advised to take precautions to avoid infection while others at high risk are told to seek medical attention.
  • The platform aims to help users “reduce psychological panic” around the epidemic by allowing them to make preliminary judgments about their medical conditions, according to Baidu.

Context: China’s tech sector has mobilized against the virus, with numerous companies launching tools to help the public stay informed and safe during the epidemic.

  • Tencent’s mobile payment platform WeChat Pay and online insurance platform WeSure are offering eligible merchants hospitalized with Covid-19 up to RMB 1,000 ($143.5) for 30 days, while not requiring the funds to be repaid.
  • Baidu has also previously launched a service that provides free online Covid-19 consultation with real doctors.
  • China has also released a platform allowing the public to check if they have been in close contact with someone that may be infected with the virus while traveling via rail or air.

Christopher Udemans is a Shanghai-based technology reporter. He covers Chinese artificial intelligence, mobility, and cybersecurity. You can contact him at chrisudemans [at] technode [dot] com.

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