COVIDSafe app another weapon in the war against coronavirus

Westmead Hospital emergency specialist Dr Andrew Coggins proudly shows off the COVIDSafe app on his phone.

More than two million Australians so far have joined the fight against COVID-19 by downloading the Australian Government’s COVIDSafe app.

Launched on Sunday, ahe app is an important public health initiative that will help keep you, your family and your community safe from further spread of coronavirus through early notification of possible exposure.

“Australians are doing an extraordinary job to flatten the curve and contain the spread of the coronavirus, but we cannot be complacent,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison said.

“The chief medical officer’s advice is we need the COVIDSafe app as part of the plan to save lives and save livelihoods. The more people who download this important public health app, the safer they and their family will be, the safer their community will be, and the sooner we can safely lift restrictions and get back to business and do the things we love.”

The health initiative uses technology to automate and improve what state and territory health officials already do manually in a process known as contact tracing.

COVIDSafe will speed up the process of identifying people who have been in close contact with someone diagnosed with coronavirus, quickly stopping further spread of the virus in the community.

Western Sydney Local Health District chief executive Graeme Loy has strongly encouraged staff and the community to join him in downloading the app.

“Use of the app is voluntary, and the data will only be used by the health system for the purpose of contact tracing,” Graeme said.

“This is usually a fairly manual, time-consuming process, but this technology will help us identify contacts very quickly to help reduce community transmissions.”

The app runs in the background on your smartphone and uses Bluetooth to keep track of any other users you have close contact with in a three-week period.

Australian chief medical officer Brendan Murphy said that only state and territory health officials will be able to access and use the information.

“COVIDSafe only keeps contact information for 21 days. This covers the maximum incubation period for the virus and the time it takes for someone to be tested for COVID-19,” Professor Murphy said.

“Once the coronavirus pandemic is over, and Australia no longer needs the app, the app and the information on it will be deleted permanently. No virus, no app.”

The COVIDSafe app is available for free now on the Apple and Android stores.

For more information, visit the Department of Health website and check out the frequently asked questions.