Phone apps ‘essential’ for effective contact tracing, minister says

A phone app developed by the government called Virusradar may be instrumental in saving lives during the second wave of the coronavirus epidemic, Laszlo Palkovics, the minister for innovation and technology said on Wednesday.

So far, 35,000 people have downloaded the application, which is currently available for Android operating systems, Palkovics said.

The app uses the phone’s bluetooth connection to identify the phones that spend at least 15 minutes within a two-metre radius from it. The phone’s owner later can decide whether to share that information with the authorities.

Younger people tend to be the main spreaders of the infection at present, and the app should play a more important role now than in the spring, he said at a press conference, urging as many people as possible to download it.

Government spokeswoman Alexandra Szentkiralyi said people under the age of 40 get out of the house and meet more often, so effective contact tracing is essential.

In the government’s National Consultation public survey on the epidemic, over 2 million people said they did not want to return to a severe lockdown, Szentkiralyi noted. The government is working to save people’s lives and health without shutting down the economy again, she said.

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