Germany launched its coronavirus tracking app Corona-Warn-App on Tuesday, with officials touting the software is so secure that even government ministers can use it.
The news comes weeks after after other governments around the world including Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and France, have introduced similar apps to track coronavirus infections. Experts have argued that finding new cases quickly is key to preventing fresh clusters of infections, especially so as countries begin to emerge from periods of lockdown.
In Germany, the government insists the app will be an important step in controlling the spread of the virus, but using the app remains optional for citizens and residents.
A poll this month published by public broadcaster ARD found that slightly more Germans – 42 percent - said they would use the tracing app than the 39 percent who said they wouldn’t. The rest either said they didn’t have a smartphone or hadn’t made up their mind.
In the UAE, officials have been urging the public to join the country’s coronavirus tracing app Alhosn.
Launched in late April, the tracing app will allow health authorities to act faster in responding to the coronavirus, officials said.
“[Alhosn] also helps us protect our loved ones as the earlier we are notified then the more effectively we can protect those around us. And, finally, it protects our community by facilitating contact tracing on a national level, containing the spread of COVID-19 faster,” Dr. Farida Al Hosani, official spokesperson for the UAE health sector, said during a press briefing last month.
Saudi Arabia has likewise launched its own tracking app, Tawakkalna, on May 4.
The app, developed with cooperation between the Ministry of Health and the Saudi Data and Artificial Intelligence Authority (SDAIA), can be used to self-report health conditions, contact medical staff, and receive advice.
Tawakkalna also provides the latest figures on the coronavirus infection in the Kingdom, and can be used to apply for movement permits while authorities keep a curfew in place to limit the spread of the virus.
Not all app rollouts have been successful, however.
Qatar’s coronavirus tracing app launched with a significant security flaw that could allow for the data of more than one million users to be harvested, while requiring odd and seemingly unnecessary app permissions.