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Alphabet's Verily launches coronavirus screening service in California

The service helps users determine whether they may need a test.
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Verily -- Google's sibling healthcare brand -- has launched a website that will help adults in northern California determine whether they need a test for coronavirus. The "triage" pilot is available to those in Santa Clara Country and San Mateo County, and asks users questions about their recent health and travel. The site will, if necessary, help users obtain a free test.

The site represents the first phase of Alphabet's bid to assist the US government in managing the coronavirus outbreak. The tech giant said yesterday that it was working on a "nationwide website" that will provide information about COVID-19 symptoms, risks and testing info -- an announcement hurriedly brought forward after President Trump revealed joint plans ahead of schedule.

However, it does appear that there is some confusion over the way the Verily site should be used. People already showing symptoms of the virus are asked to seek medical advice, rather than a test through the platform. As such, the screening tool will only trigger if users answer "no" to having symptoms, which has led some to conclude the site is working incorrectly. However, it's no surprise that a program rolled out so swiftly in the face of an event already surrounded by confusion and misinformation would be subject to some misunderstanding.

A statement on the new triage site reads, "We are working to rapidly expand testing in every way that we can; please check back soon as we add more testing sites and may expand eligibility criteria."

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