Coronavirus app is not necessary for tracing, says task force
Thursday, 23 April 2020
Federal Minister Philippe De Backer, head of the taskforce against the further spread of the new coronavirus (Covid-19), said that a coronavirus app is not necessary for contact tracing.
In light of the possible relaxation of the lockdown measures, De Backer said an app was not necessary, and wants to focus on manual tracing.
“Contact research does not really require an app,” De Backer said in the VRT programme Villa Politica. “It is done manually, and has existed for years. People write down who they have been in contact with and call them. These people, in turn, get tested. That’s the system we need to map out the virus and stop its further spread,” he added.
Earlier this week, it was announced that Belgium would hire 2,000 “corona detectives,” who will work to trace the people who have been in contact with confirmed or suspected coronavirus patients.
The original plan was for the work of those contact tracers to be complemented by tracing done by a tracking app, which would employ personal data to follow the virus’ spread through the population.
However, for such an app to be effective, at least 60% of the population would need to install it on their phone, and that is not feasibly for the time being, according to De Backer.
“Let’s focus on that contact research to really map out how the virus is spreading now,” he said. “If it turns out afterwards that we can use such an app, we will,” De Backer said, that a general framework is being looked into on the federal level, in which such an app could be used.