Germany gets ready to launch coronavirus tracing app

Germany gets ready to launch coronavirus tracing app
Health Minister Jens Spahn. Photo: DPA
Germany's Health Minister Jens Spahn says a mobile phone app to help trace coronavirus infections in a bid to keep the spread under control will be made available to the public in the coming days.

Alongside shutting down public life for around two months, Germany’s 'track and trace' system has played a huge role in slowing the spread of Covid-19 to stop it from overwhelming the country's health system.

And the rollout of an app, which would use bluetooth to alert smartphone users when they have been in contact with someone infected with the virus, is considered crucial in the fight against the pandemic as Germany continues to relax lockdown measures.

“We will present the app in the course of next week,” said Spahn in an interview with regional newspaper RP Online published on Monday June 8th.

The app has been in development since the pandemic hit Germany – however, Spahn said this time was needed to make sure the it functioned well, and on all smart phones.

The Health Minister said the app must meet strict requirements regarding data protection and energy efficiency.

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“Nobody will use an app that drains a mobile phone's battery in a few hours,” he said.

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Containing virus is 'team game'

The German government has repeatedly stressed that the use of any coronavirus app would be voluntary and anonymous. It's an important message in a country still haunted by the spying of the Nazi era and the former East German secret police.

Authorities are hopeful, though, that people in Germany will sign up to it.

“If we convince a few million citizens of the app in the coming weeks, then I'll be satisfied,” Spahn said. “Containing the virus is a team game. Everyone who downloads the app will help.”

READ ALSO: Privacy-mad Germany turns to app to track coronavirus spread

The federal government plans to promote the use of the app in a broad campaign.

It was originally hoped that the app would be ready at the end of April. But there were delays after the government switched to using technology supported by Google and Apple, ditching a German-led alternative that had come under fire over privacy concerns.

Why use an app?

By making the app available to the public, the government wants to better recognise coronavirus infection chains, and ensure that the spread of Covid-19 does not get out of control.

If a user tests positive for Covid-19 and this status is recorded in the app, other users would be informed that they had been near an infected person.

Experts have said they are hopeful people in Germany accept the introduction of the app which would help the country return to some degree of normality while keeping the virus under control.


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