Latvia to launch coronavirus contact tracing app

Latvia may soon become one of the first countries to launch a smartphone app using a new toolkit created by Apple and Google to help trace coronavirus infections, news wires reported. Apturi Covid (Stop Covid) app is based on technology launched last week by the two giants, whose iOS and Android operating systems run 99% of the world's smartphones.

"The developers believe that reliance on this standard will ensure widespread adoption and also compatibility over time with contact tracing apps around the world that are also expected to adopt the same exposure notification framework," the app's developers said in a statement. Launching tracing apps in countries like Singapore and Australia has stumbled because Apple's iPhone does not support their approach to using Bluetooth short-range radio as a proxy for measuring the risk of infection.

The app would only work within the small Baltic nation, its approach aligns Latvia with a loose coalition of European countries - including Germany, Switzerland and Estonia - that are working to make it possible for their national apps to 'talk' to each other across borders. Like mobile roaming, such interoperability would enable an app to work when a user travels abroad, giving governments greater confidence to ease travel restrictions without triggering a second wave of the pandemic.

The contact tracing app will use encrypted data exchange to ensure the identity of the contacts detected by the app is not disclosed. A person who becomes infected with the coronavirus will be given a special code which has to be entered into the app to launch the contact tracking mechanism. The app will be saving data for 14 days before automatically deleting them. The Centre for Disease Prevention and Control will be the owner of the app.

More on this subject: Coronavirus

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