Scott Morrison says the COVIDSafe app is our “ticket out” of restrictions

Scott Morrison says the COVIDSafe app is our “ticket out” of restrictions

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The PM has all but demanded more people download the app, as the country’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer says Australia is now on “a countdown” to life returning to normal.

Scott Morrison says downloading and using the Government’s contact tracing app – COVIDSafe – must become “like putting on sunscreen to go out in the sun”

“If you want to go outside when the sun is shining, you have to put sun screen on, this is the same thing,” he said.

“Australians want to return to community sport. If you want to return to a more liberated economy and society, it is important that we get increased numbers of downloads when it comes to the COVIDSafe app. 

“It protects you, it protects your family, it protects your loved ones, it protects our health workers, and it protects your job, and the jobs of many others, because it enables us to move forward, and get the economy back on the track wanted to be on.”

Mr Morrison urged those who had downloaded the app to convince friends and families to do the same.

“If you have downloaded the app, thank you very much – convince two or three more people that haven’t downloaded the app to do the same thing,” he said.

The app has now been downloaded about 3 million times, equating to a little over 10 per cent of Australia’s population.

For optimum contact tracing through the app, the Government has set the target of those with the app downloaded on their phones at 40 per cent of the population.

“I would ask for millions and millions and millions more to do the same thing (and download it),” he said.

How does it work?

The app works by detecting other devices near you that also have the app downloaded and bluetooth enabled.

When the app recognises that user, it notes the date, time, place and how much time you spent how close to that person.

The information is deleted in a 21-day-cycle and only used if you are contacted about having COVID-19, allowing authorities to track down anyone you’ve been in contact with, or if you’ve been in contact with a positive case yourself.

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Is it safe?

The Government has gone to great pains to assure Australians their privacy is not at risk from downloading the app.

“The protections are in place in terms of people’s privacy and other legal detections,” Mr Morrison said.

The data is encrypted, so not even you can access it, and you need to give permission before anyone else can.

Why 40 percent?

The 40 per cent figure was given after analysis of how big a portion of the population would need to have the app downloaded for it to be effective at all.

Essentially, anything below 40 percent of Australians having the technology downloaded is not going to result in anything close to accurate or effective contact tracing, because you could have the virus and the app installed, but most of the people you may interact with might not.

So no more humans doing the contact tracing?

Because we’re still at a very low portion of the population having downloaded the app, there is still the need for people to do the manual contact tracing.

In fact DCMO Professor Paul Kelly said the app could never “replace good contact tracing”.

“We have real expertise in Australia in relation to public health broadly and including contact tracing,” he said.

“Every state and territory has a very good unit and the heads of those units, the chief health officers, meet with us every day in the Australia Health Protection Committee.

“The app is only a technological assistance to that expertise that’s already there.”

Low coronavirus cases “not good enough”

Just 20 cases of coronavirus were confirmed over the 24 hours before the Prime Minister’s address, but Mr Morrison said even low cases did not translate as “success” to him.

“If we were to consider our success on COVID-19 as just having a low number of cases, that is not good enough,” he said.

“That is not what our Government is seeking to achieve and I don’t believe it is what the National Cabinet is seeking to achieve either.

“Having a low number of cases but having Australians out of work, having a low number of cases and children not receiving in classroom education, having a low number of cases and businesses not being open, having a low number of cases and Australians not able to be
going about their as normal lives as possible, that is not what success looks like.”

Easing of restrictions “not too far off”

Mr Morrison flagged the easing of more restrictions in the near future.

“It is important to understand… the road back, when we get to that COVID-19 safe environment, where we can ease the restrictions… is not too far away,” he said.

“You’re already seeing that happen with many of the States and Territories – as I said they would over this interim period before we get together in the week beginning the 11th of May and consider the baseline restrictions. States are already moving back from where they were ahead of those baselines.

“That is welcome and that demonstrates to Australians that there is a dividend for them.”

In the wake of Andrew ‘Twiggy’ Forrest helping secure 10 million new tests, Professor Kelly said the “countdown” of life returning to normal could begin.

“The ability to have 10 million diagnostic tests… is a remarkable change to where we were only a few weeks ago,” he said.

“Those tests will be very important as we plot the way out of our current restrictions and the Prime Minister earlier today did talk about the date that will be, when some decisions will be made, May 11.

“We’re on a countdown to lifting some of those restrictions and so that laboratory testing component of the case finding ability will be a very important precedent to be able to lift those restrictions.

“No reason” why the Australian-Chinese relationship would alter in the future, despite sizzling tensions

Australia’s pursuit of a probe into the coronavirus and it handling in the first weeks of the outbreak has draw the ire of Chinese officials and Communist State-backed media, which went so far as to say Australia was “panda bashing” today.

But presented with the comments from media and China’s ambassador to Australia – who threatened to boycott Australian products – Mr Morrison said all was well in the relationship.

“The thing about our relationship with China is it is a mutually beneficial one. It is a comprehensive strategic partnership, and we will continue to pursue that partnership, respecting China’s sovereignty, and their independence, and its success will continue to depend on that being returned,” he said.

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