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COVIDSafe app yet to identify close contacts of COVID-19 cases


COVIDSafe app yet to identify close contacts of COVID-19 cases

It was supposed to be the key to ending lockdown, but two months after it was launched and COVIDSafe is yet to identify any unknown cases.

By Hannah Paine

It was touted by Prime Minister Scott Morrison as the key out of lockdown.

But two months after COVIDSafe was first launched, it is yet to help detect any close contacts of confirmed coronavirus cases that were not found through contact tracing, Channel 9 reports.

In the 568 Victoria cases confirmed since COVIDSafe was launched in late April just over 30 had the app downloaded.

In Victoria, NSW, South Australia and Tasmania the app failed to identify any close contacts that weren’t detected by contact tracing.

Meanwhile in Queensland and Western Australia no confirmed cases have so far downloaded the app.

“The COVID-19 app is not working as we hoped it would because too few people have downloaded it,” Queensland Health Minister Steven Miles told the network.

According to the Federal Government, 40 per cent of the Australian population needs to download COVIDSafe in order for it to be effective.

On June 11 the ABC reported that 6.2 million Australians had downloaded the app.

Many Australians have been reluctant to, citing privacy concerns.

The effectiveness of phone tracing apps has also been downplayed overseas, with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson saying that “no country currently has a functioning track and trace app” after failures launching a system he claimed would be “world-beating”.

However coronavirus-tracing apps have had been success in other countries, with 900,000 people notified and told to self-isolate by India‘s version last month.

The Indian app Aarogya Setu, launched on April 2, has been downloaded 131 million times, the BBC reports.

It comes as the Victorian government grapples with how to control the growing coronavirus outbreak, with 33 new cases confirmed on Thursday.

Returned travellers who are diagnosed with coronavirus are being transferred to so-called “hot” hotels staffed by hospital workers and state-employed security, The Age reports.

Two outbreaks in Melbourne have been linked to quarantine hotels, with 34 staff at Stamford Plaza and Rydges on Swanston as well as people they had direct contact with now diagnosed with coronavirus.

1000 Australian Defence Force troops were expected to arrive in Victoria to assist with monitoring hotel quarantine as well as providing logistical and medical support yesterday.

However plans to have 850 ADF personnel help with hotel quarantine are now being revised, with a state spokeswoman saying they were still “finalising our plans for hotel quarantine”.

“Our top priority is on planning and logistics assistance, and medical personnel to support our suburban testing blitz,” the spokeswoman said.

The Herald Sun is now reporting that police or protective services officers could be deployed into hotel quarantine instead, with discussion now underway into what their role would be.

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