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Covid safe: Australian government launches coronavirus tracing app

The Australian government has launched Covidsafe, an app that traces every person running the app who has been in contact with someone else using the app who has tested positive for coronavirus in the previous few weeks, in a bid to automate coronavirus contact tracing, and allow the easing of restrictions.

The national cabinet said that the app could be a valuable tool “if the numbers increase and the application is widely taken up”.

Health minister Greg Hunt said the government’s target for uptake of the app is 40% of the population.

Morrison said automatic contact tracing would be a key component in states and territories easing some restrictions on “high-value, low-risk economic activities” after the next four weeks.

He compared using the app to buying bonds during the war.

“In the war, people bought war bonds to get in behind the national effort. What we’re doing in fighting this fight is we’ll be asking people to download an mobile app which helps us trace the virus quickly and the more people who do that, the more we can get back to a more liveable set of arrangements.”

The state governments in NSW and Victoria have both indicated they will not make use of the app a condition for easing restrictions, and will not require a certain percentage of the population to be using the app before restrictions will be eased.

People won’t be penalized for refusing to use the app or upload their data if they test positive, and the government has said it will be a criminal offence to refuse service, access to a venue or an event for failing to use the app.

The government has published a privacy impact assessment on potential concerns with the app. In its response, the government has also indicated it will release the source code for the app, subject to the approval of the Australian Cyber Security Centre.

You can delete the app from your phone at any time, and the government has said all the information held will be deleted from its servers at the end of the pandemic.

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