By Juliano Oliveira
The COVIDSafe app has been launched by the Federal Government pledging to keep Australians safe from further spread of coronavirus through information.
According to the Government, the health initiative uses technology to automate and improve what state and territory health officials already do manually.
Basically, the app will work on the process of identifying people who have been in close contact with someone diagnosed with coronavirus. The expectation is that the virus will stop spreading.
“The Chief Medical Officer’s advice is we need the COVIDSafe app as part of the plan to save lives and save livelihoods. The more people who download this important public health app, the safer they and their family will be, the safer their community will be and the sooner we can safely lift restrictions and get back to business and do the things we love,” said Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
The authorities assure that the users’ personal information will only be accessible for use by authorised state and territory health officials. Any other access or use will be a criminal offence.
Minister for Government Services, Stuart Robert said that the COVIDSafe app uses Bluetooth to look for other phones that also have the app installed.
“To be effective, users should have the app running in the background when they are coming into contact with others. Your phone does not need to be unlocked for the app to work.”
“It then securely makes a ‘digital handshake’, which notes the date and time, distance and duration of the contact. All information collected by the app is securely encrypted and stored in the app on the user’s phone. No one, not even the user, can access it.”
“Unless and until a person is diagnosed with COVID-19, no contact information collected in the app is disclosed or able to be accessed. Then, once the person agrees and uploads the data, only the relevant state or territory public health officials will have access to information. The only information they are allowed to access is that of close contacts – when a person has come within approximately 1.5 metres of another app user for 15 minutes or more – in their jurisdiction,” Minister Robert said.
Australian Chief Medical Officer, Brendan Murphy said that only state and territory health officials will be able to use the information.”
“COVIDSafe only keeps contact information for 21 days. This covers the maximum incubation period for the virus and the time it takes for someone to be tested for COVID-19,” Professor Murphy said.
The app can be downloaded from Apple App Store and Google Play Store.