Australia Launches Contact-Tracing App as States Ease Lockdown

Australia launched mobile-phone software to help trace people infected with the coronavirus as parts of the country start to loosen restrictions on movement.

The COVIDSafe app records digital handshakes between smartphones via Bluetooth, and if someone catches the virus, health authorities will be able to track who has been within 1.5 meters of the person for 15 minutes or more. More than 1.1 million people have signed up since its launch Sunday, the government said.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison says broader testing and contact-tracking are pre-requisites for Australia to more broadly ease social distancing restrictions, after Queensland and Western Australia states announced they are relaxing some controls on Sunday. The government needs to overcome privacy concerns to convince people to sign up to the app, and says at least 40% of the26 million-strong population must do so for it to be successful.

“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,” Morrison said Sunday.

32,796 in U.S.Most new cases today

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Australia Sees ‘Road Back’ as Lockdown Flattens Virus Curve

A Newspoll for the Australian newspaper on Monday showed support for Morrison during the outbreak has climbed to its highest level for an Australian leader since 2008.

The U.K. has said itplans to use an app for tracing coronavirus contacts, and countries including Singapore have introduced similar technology to fight the outbreak. An Australian Institute survey of about 1,000 people showed 45% of respondents were willing to use the system, while 28% said they wouldn’t.

With new infections across Australia slowing to a trickle, Western Australia on Monday allowed indoor and outdoor gatherings of as many as 10 people, up from a two-person rule imposed on March 30.

Queensland will ease restrictions from Saturday. The state will let people go for drives, have picnics, visit a national park and shop for non-essential items, as long as it’s within 50 kilometers of home and social distancing is maintained.

Two Australian States Are Easing Coronavirus Restrictions

As of 6:00 a.m. Monday, confirmed infections in Australia stood at 6,713, an increase of 10 in the previous 24 hours. The slowing rate has made it harder for authorities to convince Australians to stay at home: Crowds have surged back to Sydney beaches, forcing local councils to limit access or close them down completely.

Authorities have stressed that data from COVIDSafe will only be used by health officials and won’t be accessible by police.

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