Coronavirus Australia: State Health Departments Unable To Use COVIDSafe App Data

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Coronavirus COVID-19 Australia Airport
French nationals queue to enter Sydney's international airport to be repatriated back to France on April 2, 2020, amid the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. - The French government has chartered three Airbus A380 aircraft flown by Qatar Airways to repatriate mostly French nationals wanting to return home from Australia due to the COVID-19 pandemic, one from Perth which left March 31, one today from Sydney and a third from Melbourne on April 4. PETER PARKS/AFP via Getty Images

Australian states have yet to use data coming from the COVIDSafe, the mobile application launched by the government for contact tracing.

Launched by the Australian Health Department in April as part of its efforts to curb the spread of coronavirus, COVIDSafe has been downloaded by over 5.87 million Australians. It is designed to help state health officials trace contacts of COVID-19 positive patients.

However, no state has reported using the data from the application for contact tracing. This is despite health officials receiving training on how to access the data.

The Guardian noted the NSW Health department has encountered technical issues when using the service. It also had problems integrating it into their current contact tracing methods. The federal health department, however, denied knowing of any issues.

As for its part, NSW Health said they are still “evaluating” the app and will use it when new COVID-19 cases identified show potential contacts.

“We are evaluating the use of the CovidSafe app … we will be using it in every new case identified where there are potential contacts and we’ll update you on the utility of that, but there is a formal evaluation under way and we’re working closely with commonwealth colleagues,” said Dr. Kerry Chant, NSW chief health officer, during a press conference Tuesday.

Victoria Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton also said the state health department has not used the data. Sutton added the department is looking into the “privacy and security” of the app.

“No, we haven’t had any detections through the CovidSafe app to date,” he confirmed.

While state health departments have yet to use the data, the application will come in handy should Australia see a surge in coronavirus cases. So far, the country has seen a slow increase in cases the past days. According to Worldometer data, as of May 19, Australia has 7,068 confirmed coronavirus cases and 100 deaths.

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