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92.9fm Regional News

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Contact tracing app launched to tackle COVID-19 | EXPLAINER

Updated: Nov 11, 2020

The Federal Government has launched the new coronavirus tracing app in a bid to assist in identifying community transmission of the infection. The Health Minister Greg Hunt and chief medical officer Brendan Murphy addressed media on Sunday at 3pm to announce the COVIDSAFE app would be released. It is reported to go live at 6pm on Sunday with residents able to register their details then. Mr Hunt said the app is aimed at finding those cases which may be undiagnosed in the community. "[It's about] helping people get early treatment, helping people have early diagnosis and to ensure that our doctors and nurses, our health workers, our families and friends are protected, and that will save lives and protect lives," he said.

The news comes soon after Tamworth was revealed to have another case of COVID-19, with the count rising to 14 on Sunday.

What is the purpose? It assists in the early alert and search of people who have come into contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19. How does the app work? It works by using Bluetooth to record anyone you get close to that also has the app on the phone. It then exchanges signals, or "anonymised IDs" with each other, which are stored and encrypted. "Download the app and subsequently register from 6pm today," Mr Hunt said. "You then have your app open, and it provides a Bluetooth handshake, and it sits on your phone in terms of the data, that is encrypted No-one has access to that, not even yourself, no Commonwealth officials. "If you are diagnosed then you already have voluntary consent for downloading the app, but you are asked a second time, only a state public health official can be given access to that data, and only after you have then consented for a second time. "Your details then of who you have been in contact with for more than 15 minutes, with less than 1.5m distance, will then be provided." Are there privacy concerns? The data is deleted from your phone after 21 days. The only information that is required from a person is the name, phone number, age-range and postcode. Mr Hunt said in terms of privacy, no one can access what is on the phone. "It is also prohibited by law. I have already signed in to law on behalf of the government a biosecurity act and determination which prevents access and ensures the data has to be kept on an Australian server," he said. "It cannot leave the country. It cannot be accessed by anybody other than a state public health official. "It cannot be used for any purpose other than the provision of the data for the purposes of finding people with whom you have been in close contact with, and it is punishable by jail if there is a breach of that. There is no geolocation. "There is no Commonwealth access, and it is stored in Australia, and importantly it is deleted from your phone after 21 days."

According to the Department of Health said at the end of the Australian COVID-19 pandemic, users will be prompted to delete the app from their phone.

The information contained in the storage system will also be destroyed at the end of the pandemic.

Where do I download the app? From the Google App Store or the Apple Store.

For more information click here.


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