Contract tracing app for the whole country from September

An app to enable contact tracing will be ready sometime in September. The news that the app will be rolled out throughout the country in around two months’ time comes from the woman in charge of the coordination of contact tracing in Belgium Karine Moykens. Ms Moykens was a guest in VRT Radio 1’s morning news and current affairs programme ‘De ochtend’. Although contact tracing is the responsibility of the regions, there will be one app for the whole of Belgium. 

From sometime in September you will be able to download the app onto your smartphone (if you have one). The app is intended to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus by checking who has had physical contact with who. Since the onset of the corona crisis there has been talk of developing a contact tracing app. Such an app already exists in some countries.

Initially it was decided not to develop an app for use in Belgium. However, half way through last month the authorities had a change of heart. The app should be up and running before the end of September.

Karine Moykens of the Inter-Federal Testing & Tracing Committee told ‘De ochtend’ that as soon as a doctor diagnoses COVID-19 the patient will be given a code that she or he will have to enter into the app. The app will then send a message asking anyone that the patient has been in close proximity to contact their GP. Those that receive a message will not be told which of the people they have been in contact with has tested positive for the virus.

Ms Moykens said that privacy will be guaranteed. The system that will be rolled out here is already in use in The Netherlands, Germany and Switzerland.

Use of the app will be voluntary, which begs the question of whether people will download it in sufficient numbers. A survey by the Road Safety Institute VIAS found that 37% of Belgians would be prepared to download the app. Another study found that 55% of Flemings would be prepared to do so.

In addition to the app the existing system of contact tracing call centres will remain.

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