COVIDSafe app hasn't found virus contacts in Victoria, NSW or ACT

Health authorities are yet to find a close contact using the COVID Safe app that hasn't already been found by manual contact tracing. Picture: Shutterstock
Health authorities are yet to find a close contact using the COVID Safe app that hasn't already been found by manual contact tracing. Picture: Shutterstock

Health authorities in NSW and Victoria tracking community transmission of coronavirus haven't successfully used the government's COVIDSafe app to find more cases of the virus.

Cases of coronavirus in Victoria increased by 177 on Monday, the majority of which were still under investigation to find out if they were linked to another case.

Victoria's chief health officer Brett Sutton told reporters that while the app was a "useful tool" it hadn't found any additional contacts of known cases.

Federal opposition frontbencher Bill Shorten said it was an expensive dud.

"Labor gave support in principle if the app could make us safer, but I have to say it looks like an expensive dud, another IT bungle," he told Nine's Today Show on Tuesday.

Having spoken to people in his local electorate, Mr Shorten said it was generally middle class voters with smart phones who had downloaded the app.

"But a lot of people who don't have a lot of money, a lot of older people, a lot of people from culturally different communities, they haven't downloaded it," he said.

The COVIDSafe app was introduced by the federal government to assist with contact tracing when someone had been diagnosed with the virus. It works by creating a "digital handshake" between two phones with the app through a bluetooth connection, but there are issues with its functionality, especially with iPhones.

NSW Health authorities are tracing a cluster of coronavirus cases connected to the Crossroads Hotel in Casula, a situation Professor Sutton told reporters in Victoria was "exactly the kind of setting you hope the COVIDSafe app has been downloaded by a significant number of people".

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But Dr Kerry Chant, NSW chief health officer, said the app hadn't been a major player in the investigation.

"We continue to incorporate questions around the COVIDSafe app, it hasn't been the major feature," she said.

"Clearly the record keeping and the fact that we can identify people who attended the day, but can I also say the media are getting the messages out, we have seen an incredible turnout, and can I extend my appreciation to the community for that."

Last week ACT chief health officer Kerryn Coleman said the new cases of coronavirus in the ACT didn't have the app and it hadn't been used to find new contacts.

On Thursday Victorian authorities said they had accessed the data of 188 people who had been diagnosed with coronavirus so far.

with AAP

This story COVIDSafe app hasn't found virus contacts first appeared on The Canberra Times.

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