Mobile phone tracking could be used so authorities can monitor coronavirus cases in Australia. Image by Joel Carrett/AAP PHOTOS

Health

Tracking could replace strict virus rules

2020-04-15 16:42:20

Australians could soon have their mobile phones tracked to see if they have come into contact with coronavirus.

Health authorities are mulling over how closely Australians could be monitored once travel restrictions and social distancing rules are relaxed.

Singapore is using the TraceTogether application to help track the spread of the disease.

Australia has been given the code to develop its own surveillance software.

“We’re very keen to use it and use it perhaps even more extensively than Singapore,” Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy told a New Zealand parliamentary hearing on Tuesday.

He acknowledged there were privacy concerns.

“Obviously there’s a conversation to have with the community about the acceptability of it, but we think that idea, the TraceTogether app, is a really excellent one,” he said.

“We’re actively looking at that as part of a measure that might be used to perhaps consider some relaxation of measures.”

Deputy chief medical officer Paul Kelly says tracking technology is being discussed by governments as part of the next steps.

“We’re very much interested in relation to what we can do to find close contacts of cases as quickly as possible,” he told reporters in Canberra.

TraceTogether uses Bluetooth to detect other users in close proximity, with encounters stored on a person’s phone.

They then have to share the records with authorities when asked to be part of a tracing investigation.