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Australia Queensland finally gets a coronavirus tracing app to replace 'onerous' old system

07:27  28 february  2021
07:27  28 february  2021 Source:   abc.net.au

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Information about the current COVID-19 public contact tracing alerts in Queensland .

Meanwhile, Queensland has recorded two new cases of coronavirus , with both confirmed as Australian Defence Force staff returning from overseas, taking the state's total to 1,070. Health authorities said the pair had been in isolation since their arrival and there was no public transmission risk. Queensland Police Minister Mark Ryan said the state's border check points were going "as smoothly as they can be". He said officers would continue to monitor each location but encouraged those people hoping to cross the border to travel in off-peak hours.


a man holding a beer bottle on a table: Doug Meagher, the manager of the Orion Hotel in Brisbane, said the old system was convoluted and onerous. (ABC News: Emilie Gramenz) © Provided by ABC News Doug Meagher, the manager of the Orion Hotel in Brisbane, said the old system was convoluted and onerous. (ABC News: Emilie Gramenz)

The Queensland government is rolling out a new coronavirus app to make it easier for the state's hospitality sector to keep track of their customers for contact tracing.

The Check In Qld app was launched on Sunday by the Minister for Health and Ambulance Services, Yvette D'Ath, at a pub south of Brisbane.

"This is going to make contact tracing quicker and easier for Queensland Health, which means if we were to get local transmission of COVID in our community we can identify it, we can trace it and contain COVID-19," said Ms D'Ath.

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A trial of the English coronavirus app is getting under way. It will be limited to residents in the Isle of Wight, the London Borough of Newham and NHS volunteer responders to begin with. image captionThe app will allow people to see their local risk level and log when they have been to a venue. The contact- tracing element of the software is based on Google and Apple's privacy-centric system . The developers acknowledge there are still issues with measuring the distance between handsets, meaning some people will be incorrectly logged as being at high risk.

Businesses get a pin number that customers can enter in the app when they check in. Guests remain anonymous, but in the event of an outbreak, the business can inform “I Checked In” and the app will notify anyone who was potentially exposed. He said he developed the app to find a better way of contact tracing after noticing that people have an aversion to being tracked, the risk of which has been heightened by the pandemic. Apple, google update coronavirus contact- tracing software plans.

Users will be able to sign in at certain venues by scanning a QR code — but only at places that are participating in the program.

Participation is not mandatory, and it has only been tested in the hospitality industry, but other businesses can use it, too.

"The app will contain [users'] contact details so they will not have to constantly keep putting their contact details in every time they go to a venue," Ms D'Ath said.

Until now, the state's contact tracers have been relying on a patchwork of tools used venues to comply with COVID-19 regulations to keep an electronic record of their customers.

Doug Meagher, manager of the Orion Hotel in Springfield, where the new app was launched, said the old method was convoluted and onerous.

"We had Excel spreadsheets that we then had to electronically send them to Queensland Health," said Mr Meagher said.

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A Townsville woman in her 30s tests positive to coronavirus while in Victoria with Queensland 's health authorities now tracking down her contacts before she travelled south. COVID-19 was detected in Townsville's wastewater on the weekend. Contact tracing is also underway for passengers on Qantas flight QF2302 from Townsville to Cairns on October 3 and Virgin flight VA782 from Cairns to Brisbane on October 6. ACT Health also issued a statement saying it was contacting passengers and crew on Qantas flight QF1543 from Brisbane to Canberra who might have been in close contact with

"We had to retain the data for 28 to 56 days, we then had QR codes where you were sent different codes … it was onerous."


Information deleted after 56 days

New South Wales, Victoria and the Australia Capital Territory launched similar apps in the latter half of 2020.

Ms D'Ath said the Queensland government wanted to assess what was already available and working before committing to its own app.

Queensland based its app on the ACT model, Check In CBR, which launched in September.

Testing and trials of Queensland's Check In app began in January at selected venues from Cairns to Ipswich.

More than 200 businesses took part in the trial and are now using the new app, the government said.

Ms D'Ath said Queenslanders should have confidence their data will be secure.

"We are collecting the least amount of information, and only the information we need in relation to contact tracing," the minister said.

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Countries around the world are developing Covid-19 smartphone apps to limit the spread of coronavirus and relax lockdown restrictions. It's hoped the information they gather can be used to alert people whether they pose a risk of spreading the contagion, and need to isolate. Centralised v decentralised apps . In truth, both are unproven at this stage. South Korea, seen as one of the most successful countries at tackling Covid-19, has done it without a contact- tracing app . It has however used other surveillance methods which would be seen as invasive by many.

Contact tracing apps are useless unless at least about half of a population downloads them, and iPhone usage is too substantial in most countries to be ignored. So CoronApp used alternative technology from Portuguese company HypeLabs, which sells networking technology to gaming apps The coronavirus can spread through shared objects such as tables, and two people who sit in the same spot an hour apart would not be picked up by the Apple-Google Bluetooth system , said Aarathi Prasad, a professor of computer science at Skidmore College. Privacy activists have praised the

Information gathered on the app will be only used by authorised health officials and will be deleted after 56 days.

"Ours only collects the information that is absolutely essential, and of course we're only keeping it for 30 to 56 days," Ms D'Ath said.

No new cases of COVID-19 were reported in Queensland on Sunday, though there are 11 active cases in the state.

More than 5,200 tests had been conducted in the past 24 hours, according to Queensland Health.

Vaccinations started rolling out last week on the Gold Coast, and so far around 2,030 Queenslanders have received their first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech jab.

In coming days, more locations will be added to the rollout.

"We have our other three hubs going online this week. The RBWH, the Townsville University Hospital and the Sunshine Coast University Hospital," Ms D'Ath said.

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Banana prices expected to skyrocket after Queensland storms .
The price of bananas is expected to skyrocket after Tropical Cyclone Niran caused an estimated $180 million in damage of Far North Queensland's crops.The price of bananas is expected to skyrocket after Tropical Cyclone Niran caused an estimated $180 million in damage of Far North Queensland's crops.

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