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COVIDSafe application without 'substance benefit' for corona virus contact tracking, SA.  Says the police chief

COVIDSafe application without ‘substance benefit’ for corona virus contact tracking, SA. Says the police chief

South Australian Police Commissioner Grant Stevens has issued a stern assessment of COVIDSafe use, saying it is “not beneficial” to local health officials.

Corona virus controls will be eased within a few weeks as South Australia prepares to join other states in introducing QR (quick response) codes to track hosts in pubs and clubs.

In April, Prime Minister Scott Morrison described the COVIDSafe mobile phone application as “a ticket to a COVIDSafe Australia”.

Although more than 6 million Australians have downloaded the app, health officials have previously questioned its effectiveness in identifying links to known COVID-19 cases.

Speaking on ABC Radio Adelaide this morning, Commissioner Stevens – even the state coordinator who manages the corona virus response – said he had never heard of a case in SA identified by the application.

Asked if QR codes are necessary due to the ineffectiveness of COVIDSafe, Commissioner Stevens said the application has not been proven as successful as traditional methods.

“We didn’t get a chance to use it,” he said.

“We rely on traditional methods.

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“QR codes are a great step, with another bit of technology called Scantech coming to licensed campuses anyway to verify people’s identities.”

Data to be collected ‘centered’

SA claims that South Australia will become the latest state to use QR codes for corona virus transmission tracking. Premier Steven Marshall announced yesterday.

Civil rights objections have been leveled against technology in South Australia and other states.

Tattooed hand holding phone with QR code in a cafe
The SA government has not yet decided whether to make QR code scanning mandatory to enter hospitality venues.(ABC News: Jack Fisher)

Commissioner Stevens explained how the technology works in SA this morning, and repeatedly warranty data will be kept private.

“I think it is right for people to expect assurances that the information they provide will be protected and used for a specific purpose,” he said.

He said data from the scans would be collected “centrally”, reducing fears that hospitality sites could use it for business purposes.

Hotels, pubs and restaurants can download a QR code and print it around the place.

Hosts will be asked to enter their name and details when scanning the code.

“We can contact those people [and] Isolate them. “

Scanning may be mandatory

Commissioner Stevens said many places already use QR codes to register their hosts, but S.A. Health will establish a “consistent process” where host data will be held in a central database.

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“If we have to do contact tracking activities, we can do it immediately and isolate anyone involved in a positive case within 48 hours,” he said.

“We know businesses have records of their hosts, which is an extension of an organization that has been doing well in South Australia.”

Commissioner S.A. Health is also considering the use of facial recognition and geolocation technology so that those in need of self-isolation can demonstrate that they are doing so without the need for police visits.