Scott Morrison insists his government’s widely-criticised COVIDSafe tracking app is working as designed – even though it hasn’t detected a single case of coronvirus outside of manual contact tracing.
The prime minister said the COVIDSafe app has been involved in tracing more than 300 coronavirus cases in Victoria and that ‘technically, it’s working fine.’
‘It’s supposed to work in combination with the physical tracing that is done by contact officers – the two go together,’ he told Triple M Melbourne on Wednesday.
While the app has been involved in tracing infections, it has not identified any unknown close contacts and has been described as a ‘$2million failure’ by the Labor party.
No contacts from the 1,931 active coronavirus cases in Victoria or the cases from the outbreak at the Casula Pub in New South Wales have been solely identified by the app.
The prime minister said the COVIDSafe app has been involved in tracing more than 300 cases in Victoria and that ‘technically, it’s working fine’
‘It’s supposed to work in combination with the physical tracing that is done by contact officers – the two go together,’ he said on Wednesday
The COVIDSafe app has been downloaded by more than 6.6million people since it was released in late April.
It is supposed to slow the spread of coronavirus by using Bluetooth connections to trace who infected people came into close contact with.
No person diagnosed with the virus in Queensland and South Australia had the app downloaded on their phone.
The app has not been useful in Western Australia as there have been no cases of community transmission.
Shadow Health Minister Chris Bowen criticised the app and said it was a ‘failure.’
‘It’s played no role in effectively finding anybody who’s been exposed to COVID-19,’ Bowen told 9news.
While the app has been involved in tracing infections, it has not identified any unknown close contacts and has been described as a $2million dud by the Labor party
No contacts from the 1,612 active coronavirus cases in Victoria or the cases from the outbreak at the Casula Pub in New South Wales have been solely identified by the app (pictured: A medical workers tests a woman in Sydney)
NSW Labor Leader Jodie McKay said on Tuesday a party colleague who had the app went to the Crossroads Hotel where two patrons tested positive of the coronavirus on July 3.
McKay said her colleague had not been contacted even though she visited a location where two known coronavirus cases had also been.
An anonymous man who had also visited the hotel also said he did not receive any alerts.
‘I don’t know if it’s working,’ the man said.
The COVIDSafe app has been downloaded more than 6.6million times since it was released in late April (pictured: Man in a mask using his phone at Sydney Airport)
It is supposed to slow the spread of coronavirus by using Bluetooth connections to trace who infected people came into close contact with (pictured: Medical staff at pop-up COVID-19 testing clinic in Casula)
CORONAVIRUS CASES IN AUSTRALIA: 10,487
New South Wales: 3,517
Western Australia: 636
South Australia: 443
Australian Capital Territory: 113
Northern Territory: 31
TOTAL CASES: 10,487
CURRENT ACTIVE CASES: 2,002
The prime minister said the app was working as intended.
‘But it was never supposed to be in isolation to replace physical tracing,’ Mr Morrison said.
‘The physical tracing is quickly identifying a lot of the contacts.’
Government senator Matt Canavan also conceded the technology had not been as successful as first hoped.
The prime minister said people should stop ‘taking pot shots’ at the app.
‘(They) are just undermining confidence and that’s not a good thing,’ the prime minister said.
‘It’s a good thing to get people to download the app and not be throwing stones.’
The government said the app, which is based on a successful system in Singapore, needs to be downloaded by at least 40 per cent of Australians before restrictions can be lifted.
It uses an encrypted user ID, which regenerates every two hours, and will not log any location data.
This means neither a user’s whereabouts nor activities will be tracked, with all data deleted after 21 days.
Other countries have abandoned the tracing apps they created and decided to use versions made by tech giants Apple and Google.
The Australian Government said they will continue to push the COVIDSafe app and encouraged more people to download it.