June 8 (UPI) — Google Maps will soon provide coronavirus alerts for travelers driving or taking public transition, identifying possible crowded locations, medical facilities and testing centers, Google announced Monday.
Healthcare officials remain concerned about people gathering in crowded places during the coronavirus pandemic and fear it is still a top way for the virus to spread quickly among people.
“In our latest release of Google Maps on Android and iOS, we’re introducing features to help you easily find important information if you need to venture out, whether it’s by car or public transportation,” Ramesh Nagarajan, the product management director of Google Maps, said on the company’s website.
“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.
Google said that, along with the United States, it will roll out similar alerts in Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Britain, Colombia, France, India, Mexico, Netherlands, Spain and Thailand.
Nagarajan said those currently are the locations Google can receive information from local transit agencies and will add more countries when data becomes available.
Google is also introducing driving alerts to notify travelers about COVID-19 checkpoints and restrictions along their route, such as crossing national borders.
“You’ll see an alert on the directions screen and after starting navigation if your route is impacted by these restrictions,” Nagarajan said. “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.”
Google said medical facility alerts will be available in the United States along with Indonesia, Israel, the Philippines and South Korea. Testing center alerts will only be available in the United States.