Question they couldn’t answer on tracing app
THE Federal Government could not answer a key question about how the COVIDSafe App worked yesterday as more than two million people downloaded it in less than 24 hours.
The massive early uptake of the controversial app will help health officials make a case for easing social distancing measures, however lingering questions remain over privacy and operational issues.
Health Department chief information officer Daniel Keys said it was "unclear at this stage" if the app would work if it was not running in the background of a phone.
The issue seemed to affect iPhones, but Mr Keys said authorities were working with Apple (iOS) and Google (Android) on improving the app's performance.
He also committed to "absolutely" release the source code for "everything that's safe to do so" within two weeks following growing calls for more transparency.
Queensland Labor senator Murray Watt said he downloaded the app to help get life back to normal, but urged the Government to be much clearer and more transparent about how it worked
"The mixed messages from the Morrison Government about how the app works or what steps affect its accuracy, completely undermines people's trust," he said.
The Health Department failed to respond to detailed questions about how the app operated before deadline.
But the rush to download the app surpassed the Government's expectations with total downloads pushing two million last night.
Health Minister Greg Hunt said the response was "well ahead of expectations" as officials originally had "quiet hopes" of taking five days to pass one million users.
Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy said the uptake had been "amazing and really gratifying".
"The more Australians who take this up the more secure we are about our public health response and the more secure National Cabinet will be about thinking about taking those gentle cautious steps (to ease social distancing) that we want to take," he said.
Prof Murphy revealed total confirmed cases reached 6720 yesterday after nine new cases. Total deaths remained at 83.
"Our suppression strategy is working well," Prof Murphy said.
He said the nation's top medicos also discussed expanding testing to people without any symptoms to ensure officials were not missing cases.
"We don't think we are missing significant numbers of cases in Australia, but if we are going to consider at the National Cabinet in a few weeks time in relaxation of distancing measures, we have to be so well-prepared," he said.
Originally published as Question they couldn't answer on tracing app