New German coronavirus tracking app gets over seven million downloads

New German coronavirus tracking app gets over seven million downloads
The new coronavirus testing app. Photo: DPA
Germany’s new coronavirus tracking app, which launched on Tuesday, has already received more than seven million downloads, according to Germany’s Health Ministry on Wednesday.

In the first 24 hours, the app received around 6.4 million downloads, according to Germany's Health Ministry.

The new app, which is only available for download in Germany, is intended to make it easier and quicker to track infections and slow the spread of the virus.

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It can measure whether smartphone users have come closer than about two meters to an infected person for over 15 minutes.

If one user has tested positive and voluntarily shared this in the app, it will subsequently notify other users that they should be tested.

After that, the person can receive a test, the costs of which are currently covered by Germany's statutory health insurance – even if that person does not show symptoms.

READ ALSO: Germany to expand coronavirus testing for people without symptoms

According to a poll conducted on Twitter by The Local Germany, 43.6 percent of the 234 respondents said that they would use the App, while another 26.1 percent said that they weren't convinced yet. About a third (30.3 percent) said that they didn't know yet.

In a Facebook poll, however, 70 percent of the 1,400 respondents said that they would be using the app.

Two virologists, two different opinions

Virologist Christian Drosten expects the app to have a “good effect” even if the number of users is relatively low.

The app is a “decisively important tool” to keep the numbers down, he added, on his NDR podcast. After all, speed is the most important factor when searching for contacts of an infected person. And if people first have to be tracked down by calling them (rather than them receiving an alert on the app), important time is lost, he said.

Epidemiologist Alexander Kekulé, on the other hand, fears that the app will lead to many false alarms. For example, the app cannot detect any protective Plexiglas panes or whether contact persons wore a face masks, Kekulé said in the MDR Aktuell podcast. 

READ ALSO: How will Germany's coronavirus tracing app work?

Furthermore, the technology does not register where people meet, for example if it's somewhere outside or in a confined space. “Important dangerous contacts cannot be detected by the app at all,” he said.

The physician from the University of Halle explained that the warning system could “only work properly if we also had information about the location”. 

However, this is not planned in the new version for data protection reasons.

According to Kekulé, the app will not bring any announced relief for the overstretched health authorities, who now are required to follow up on additional reports.

Will the app lead to more people getting tested for the virus?

Thanks to the Corona-Warn-App, doctors expect more inquiries and requests for testing.

“In general, more and more questions on the subject of testing are currently appearing in GP practices – even independently of the app,” said Ulrich Weigeldt, head of the German GP Association, to the Rheinische Post newspaper. 

Patients are still feeling worried about receiving the virus and “this need for information in the family doctor's offices will certainly increase with the app.

“If the patient is warned about the app, he has the option to be tested.”

The family doctors would continue to inform patients by phone in the same way as they have done in the past with possible infected people, said Weigelt. 

This would include medical information on Covid-19 such as symptoms, risks of infection, hygiene measures and information on how the tests work.

The German government said that around €20 million has already gone into developing the app, which was first slated to be released in April. In addition, €2.5 million to €3.5 million per month has been set aside for operating costs, including two telephone hotlines.

As of Wednesday, Germany had a total of 188,523 coronavirus cases, and 173,600 reported recoveries, according to information from Johns Hopkins University. There had been 8,910 deaths.

Vocabulary

tool – (das) Werkzeug

false alarm – (der) Fehlalarm

data/information – (die) Angaben

family doctor/general practitioner – (der) Hausarzt

We're aiming to help our readers improve their German by translating vocabulary from some of our news stories. Did you find this article useful? Let us know.

 

 


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