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More than a million Australians have downloaded the coronavirus tracking app - and these familiar faces are among them

As high profile celebrities also throw their support behind it, we look at what you need to know about this new technology.

By Jess Pullar
A new technology with the capacity to track, trace and isolate cases of COVID-19 across Australia sounds like something out of a dystopian novel.
But then, these are the times we are currently living in - who would have guessed that entire cities and economies across the world would be put into a state of flux within a matter of weeks, with people from all walks of life forced to stay in their homes for fear of spreading a killer virus further.
Dystopian-esque comparisons or not, the hard reality is that we're dealing with a new norm. And now, the Australian government are releasing a groundbreaking new app to help contain the spread of the virus.
The government-approved app, which is called Covid Safe, has been at the centre of the media spotlight for weeks, not least because of the thousands of questions it raised about its validity and the privacy measures surrounding it.
It launched in Australia last night, and has already seen a strong response, with over one million people downloading the technology to their phones, according to ABC as of Monday morning.
The technology is not mandatory for download, but has been heavily recommended by the government as it could provide a significant piece in the complex and giant puzzle of successfully coming through the COVID-19 pandemic.
But what exactly is the technology, how does it work, and who (besides the government) is endorsing it? We take a look at the facts.

What is COVIDSafe, the coronavirus tracking app?

COVIDSafe is an app available for free download from the app store for both Apple and Android phones.
It is based on a technology derived in Singapore, who created a software called TraceTogether in the wake of the pandemic.
The app has the ability to log connections made via bluetooth to other phones it has come into contact with.
If a person with the app tests positive for the virus, their data, which is logged in a government server (housed in Australia and run by Amazon), can be read by health officials based in your territory - though this is only read if you consent to it.
Health officials will read this data and identify the phones yours has come into contact with. They will then call the people who own those phones, telling them to isolate and get tested.
The app can store 21 days worth of data, which is three week's worth of potential phones you may come into contact with over that time.
CovidSafe is available for download in Australia now.

Is the coronavirus tracking app safe?

Australians across the country have pondered this in the lead-up to the app's launch this week.
The government has set out as much information as possible to try to assure the country that the data will remain confidential and within the confines of its purpose.
Greg Hunt, the Health Minister published a determination, which will be laid out in official legislation next month, which stops any data from the app being used for any other purposes other than to trace potential COVID-19 cases - this includes court orders and law enforcement.
All data will also be held within Australia's walls only, according to the determination.
A privacy impact assessment was also published by the government.
With that said, it remains at the discretion of each and every Australian as to whether they download the app. Which takes us onto our next question...

Do Australians have to download the app by law?

The short answer is no.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said that downloading the app is not mandatory, however he has likened it to a civic duty, as it is something that will help the country manoeuvre and control the spread of the virus.
And despite not being mandatory to download, the app does require a certain number of people for it to be successful in tracing COVID-19's spread.
Indeed just under half (around 40 per cent) of the Australian population would need to have it downloaded onto their mobile phones.
Once it's downloaded, users are required to share a few simple details: A name (which can also be a pseudonym), their age range (not a specific number), their mobile number and their post code.
According to latest figures, Australia's population sits at just under 25 million, so there's still a lot of downloading to be done if the app is deemed effective.
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Who is supporting the coronavirus tracking app?

Alongside the government, Australian celebrities with strong followings have endorsed the use of the app in order to help control the spread of the virus.
Channel Nine journalist and presenter Sylvia Jeffreys shared an update on her Instagram story last night to show she had downloaded the application.
"I've downloaded the #covidsafe app because we are all in this together," she wrote.
Media personality Sylvia Jeffreys has thrown her support behind the app. (Instagram)
TV presenter Deborah Knight has also shown her support by sharing a post to her Instagram grid, writing: "I've downloaded the Covid-19 tracing APP. It's the best way to help beat this thing."
A number of her fans shared their support, with many writing "me too" and "done" in the comments.
For more information on the app and to download it, you can visit the Government Health website for all the details.

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