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UFS And UP Data Scientists Use Accurate Data To Fight COVID-19 Pandemic

NYAKALLO TEFU

DATA scientist and research coordinator at the University of the Free State (UFS), in collaboration with his supervisor at the University of Pretoria (UP), are at the forefront of the fight against the virus with accurate data and analysis.

This comes as scientists and researches attempt to figure out how to win the fight against the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

Herkulaas Combrink of the Centre for Teaching and Learning at the UFS and PhD candidate in Computer Science at the UP, said accurate data is important to prevent widespread panic and sensationalism during a global disaster such as the current pandemic.

“I along with colleagues have been able to progress significantly in terms of evidence-based tools to assist provincial and national decision-makers during these turbulent times”, said Combrink.

The team of colleagues include the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the USA, the provincial office of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, provincial clinicians, and the Free State Department of Health led by Dr David Motau.

Combrink says the project they are currently working on includes a provincial database for screening and monitoring and a data pipeline and assembly of hospital information flow, liaised with the NICD, Vodacom, and the different district managers to ensure that the pipeline occurs in a timely manner.

It further includes the digitized paper-based capturing tools for rapid data capturing and processing, incorporated state-of-the-art visualization tools to action data into useful information for decision-makers in certain areas and provided both provincial and national projections, stress testing different scenarios using a variety of statistical, computational, and/or machine-learning approaches to add to the already existing projections of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).

“It does come at a cost, though, in that we have worked continuously since the lockdown, dedicating all our time and efforts to the department from all over to ensure that we are not part of some of the global statistics we have seen,” said Combrink.

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