Germany says coronavirus tracking app is ready to go

Germany's Health Minister Jens Spahn makes a statement before a session in the lower house of the German parliament, Bundestag, in Berlin, Germany, on May 7, 2020, while the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) to be continued. REUTERS / Annegret Hilse

BERLIN (Reuters) – Germany's smartphone app for tracking coronavirus infections is ready to launch this week, Health Minister Jens Spahn said on Sunday.

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After delays in ensuring that Bluetooth technology works at the correct distance, the government says the app will be a vital tool to help prevent a second wave of infections.

"It's coming this week," Spahn told ARD television, but declined to confirm news from the German media that the app would be launched on Tuesday.

The application uses a short-range bluetooth radio to detect and contact people at risk of coronavirus infection and does not rely on a centralized database. Deutsche Telekom and the software company SAP are involved.

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Italy launched a similar application last week.

Spahn also urged people who want to go on vacation after checks at European borders to be reduced on Monday to be careful and ask themselves if travel is necessary.

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On Monday, Germany suspends its general travel notice for the countries of the European Union and Great Britain and replaces it with specific travel advice for countries and regions.

"We need the right balance," said Spahn, adding that recent outbreaks in Germany after mass meetings and church services have caused the virus to spread rapidly.

Thanks to large-scale tests, a robust health system and blockade measures introduced in mid-March, Germany has kept the number of deaths from COVID-19 relatively low compared to other countries, despite a large number of cases.

Reporting by Madeline Chambers; Editing by Edmund Blair

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