Australia

Government concedes health officials are currently unable to use COVIDSafe coronavirus app

Prime Minister Scott Morrison says more restrictions will eased if more people use the COVIDSafe app. Source: AAP

The number of people downloading the COVIDSafe app has now topped four million, a positive response as the national cabinet considers lifting restrictions.

The federal government has conceded that the COVIDSafe tracing app is not currently operational and won't be up and running until next week.

Deputy chief medical officer Michael Kidd on Saturday told reporters there were still some hurdles to overcome before health officials could use the app.

"That facility is still to go live, that will be happening during the current week," he told reporters.

"There's a delay from now until when the contact tracer in the state or territory where you're based has activated the system. But yes there is a delay as we're getting this set up of a few days," he added.

Health Minister Greg Hunt launching the new COVIDSafe app.
Health Minister Greg Hunt launching the new COVIDSafe app.
AAP

Dr Kidd said more than four million have now registered for the COVIDSafe app, which uses Bluetooth connections to determine who infected people came into close contact with.

He believes it is "realistic" to expect millions more to sign up before the national cabinet sits next Friday to consider lifting restrictions.

Although health officials can not currently use the data, they will eventually be able to trace back from the time when someone downloaded the app.

Meanwhile, the Australian Border Force has given the go-ahead for players and staff from the New Zealand Warriors rugby league team to travel to Australia to take part in a proposed National Rugby League competition to start in late May.

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton said the ABF commissioner had carefully considered the request from the NZ Warriors sbs covidand advice from the Chief Medical Officer that 36 foreign nationals do not pose a risk of serious harm to public health in Australia.

"New Zealand is a country which like Australia acted very quickly to close its borders," Deputy Chief Medical Officer Michael Kidd told reporters on Saturday.

"It has been very successful like Australia in reducing community transmission."

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has also floated the prospect of pubs reopening if enough people download the coronavirus tracing app.

Australia Medical Association president Tony Bartone cautioned the NRL and other sporting codes against rushing to start or restart competitions until medical experts say it is safe to do so.

"Sport is a big part of the Australian way of life, and the absence of sporting events is obviously affecting many people," Dr Bartone said in statement on Saturday.

"But we have to put the broader public health implications first."

While the lifting of restrictions will be a relief to many Australians after weeks of isolation, a federal opposition frontbencher Andrew Giles believes people are equally concerned of a "second wave" of a virus that other countries thought they had under control.

"I think everyone has really taken very seriously the experience of Singapore, which was of course lauded as a great example of how to manage the pandemic, and of course they have been struck by a very significant second wave," Mr Giles told ABC television.

People in Australia must stay at least 1.5 metres away from others. Check your state’s restrictions on gathering limits.

Testing for coronavirus is now widely available across Australia. If you are experiencing cold or flu symptoms, arrange a test by calling your doctor or contact the Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080.

The federal government's coronavirus tracing app COVIDSafe is available for download from your phone's app store.

SBS is committed to informing Australia’s diverse communities about the latest COVID-19 developments. News and information is available in 63 languages at sbs.com.au/coronavirus

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