Belgian ‘Coronalert’ tracing app already downloaded over 657,000 times
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Belgian ‘Coronalert’ tracing app already downloaded over 657,000 times

Credit: Belga

Belgium’s “Coronalert” app, which aims to combat the spread of the coronavirus, has already been downloaded more than 657,000 times since its launch last Wednesday, according to figures by the National Crisis Centre.

“I would like to appeal to everyone in Belgium to download the app. It only takes two minutes of your time, it is free, and it helps contact tracing enormously,” said Yves Stevens, spokesperson for the National Crisis Centre. “At the moment, the app has already been downloaded over 657,000 times.”

The app keeps anonymous data of the people you have come into close physical contact with, to facilitate contact tracing and make it easier to contact people after someone tested positive.

When a doctor tells you to get tested for the coronavirus, you can use the app to generate a code that can be linked to the code of the test. If the test then comes back positive, you can see this in the app and – anonymously – send a notification to anyone who has been in close physical contact.

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However, the app will only be effective if enough people install and use it, said Karin Moykes, chair of the interfederal committee for Testing & Tracing, when launching the app last week.

The most important benefit of the app is that it can also notify the people you have been in contact with but do not remember, or those you do not know, and therefore cannot pass on to the contact tracers, according to Moykens.

“The people you meet on public transport or in the supermarket, at a cultural gathering or sporting event,” she said. “This way, you can also protect them, provided, of course, that they also use the app.”

Last Saturday, the app experienced some issues as a lot of users received an error message when opening it. This was due to a problem with the network of some operators, which meant that the retrieval of background information was not done correctly, according to the Crisis Centre.

“But Coronalert continued to exchange codes via Bluetooth with other smartphones that had installed the app, so the app did its job,” said Carmen De Rudder, spokesperson for the Interfederal Committee for Testing and Tracing.

More info about the app can be found on the website coronalert.be, and it is available for download for free in both the App Store and on Google Play.

Maïthé Chini
The Brussels Times