The Malta Independent 24 October 2020, Saturday

Government launches Covid-19 contact tracing app; public urged to download and install it

Shona Berger Friday, 18 September 2020, 09:15 Last update: about 2 months ago

A Covid-19 contact tracing app was launched on Friday morning by Deputy Prime Minister Chris Fearne and Digital Economy Parliamentary Secretary Clayton Bartolo.

The app - COVID Alert Malta - is available for download on the Apple Store and Google Play

The app will let users know if they have been in close contact with someone who tests positive for the Coronavirus.

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It has been developed by the Malta Information Technology Agency (MITA) and the Malta Digital Innovation Authority.

It was explained that the app, which works in both Maltese and English, has the aim of reducing the workload of the health authorities.

It works through proximity tracing. After installing the app on your phone, the app will alert you if you have been in close proximity to people who later turn out to be positive. The app records certain data, like the time spent near other people using the app, and the distance between the persons. Certain data codes are sent to the health authorities.

If the app detects that you have been in close proximity to someone who tests positive, it will send you an alert and urge you to call the 111 helpline. This happens if you spend more than 15 mins within a two-metre distance of the infected person.

The app does not collect any personal data, including the places visited. It respects the privacy of the users, journalists were told. The use of the application is completely anonymous.

Chris Fearne urged the public to download and install the app, adding that it is completely safe and will help to keep the Covid-19 pandemic under control.

Clayton Bartolo said the app will not replace manual contact tracing but will complement it. It can help avoid infective clusters like the ones we have seen recently. This is one way in which technology can help improve people’s lives, he said.

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