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Covid-19 Technology

Italy’s launches new Immuni contact tracing App to combat the spread coronavirus

Venise under lockdown
Venise under lockdown REUTERS - Manuel Silvestri

The Italian government has released its new contact tracing App for Covid-19 called ‘Immuni’. Testing of the App begins this week in four Italian regions: Liguria, Abruzzo, Marche and Puglia and will then be extended nationwide, although Italians are already able to download the App to their phones now if they want.

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. The Italian government’s official exposure notification app was developed by Italy’s Extraordinary Commissioner for the Covid-19 emergency in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and the Ministry for Innovation Technology and Digitalization.

Apps release

Release of the app was delayed as there was strong resistance by Italians due to widespread concerns about invasion of privacy but these fears have been allayed to some extent with the government assuring that it is extremely difficult to identify those who have downloaded the app to their mobile phones.

Authorities have assured the app will not store any sensitive data or allow geo-localization. In addition, all personal data will be erased when it is no longer needed and in any case by the end of the year.

Deputy Health Minister Pierpaolo Sileri said the app would be tested for a number of days before it is extended to everyone but no explanation was provided as to how the four initial Italian regions were chosen.

There has been criticism that unless a large number of the population – some say at least 60 percent – downloads the app, it will not be affective. A recent poll showed 44 percent would be likely to download it.

However, those who developed it say it will always be a useful tool for those who have it and who will be notified if they come into contact with someone who is positive. This will allow the notified individual to take action, calling their personal doctor or going to the local health authorities to request a test.

Immuni app

The Immuni app is based on Bluetooth technology. Use of the app is on a voluntary basis and users need only fill in some very basic details including their place of residence.

The app exchanges information with other phones who have it installed and are less than one metre apart. The main objective is for the app to be used as an early warning system for the virus which can lower the risk of more serious consequences.

Italy has suffered a huge death toll of nearly 34,000 from coronavirus since the first dead person from the virus was reported in late February of this year.

Authorities have stressed that while the situation in the country has much improved, the virus has still not been eliminated from the Italian territory and that until a vaccine is produced, everyone must continue to be careful to avoid new outbreaks.

Italy started to ease its lockdown restrictions including the movement of people and re-opening of stores in early May. The country also opened its borders last week to all European travellers without them needing to quarantine.

 

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