HELSINKI, June 4 (Xinhua) -- Finland is going to formally launch a nationwide mobile app to trace the spread of COVID-19 in August this year, announced the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health on Thursday.
The application would alert the person that he or she has been close to an infected person, but health authorities would not be automatically informed.
Paivi Salo, an official of the ministry, said at a press conference on Thursday that the app holders themselves will be able to choose whether to contact health authorities if they get a notification of exposure. The app will not store the locations of the contagious encounters. Downloading the app, using it and dropping it will all be voluntary.
Salo noted that the strong privacy protections of the application could not be broken even with police powers based on other laws, adding that the enhancement of privacy protections had been made upon feedback received from earlier plans.
The app has been developed by Finnish technology companies. Using Bluetooth technology, the app anonymously records encounters between its voluntary users to not only make the identification of infection chains faster and more accurate, but also help to manage the workload of healthcare staff and offer citizens a concrete way to contribute to the fight against COVID-19.
The app has now been tested in the Hospital District of Vaasa, in western Finland.
Salo also said that the app will not reduce traditional tracking work. On the contrary, it increases the workload of trackers. The responsibility for tracing work lies with the municipalities.
Taneli Puumalainen, head of the infectious diseases unit at Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, said at the press conference that the situation of COVID-19 in Finland is "good", due to government-imposed restrictions and improved hygienic practices.
Currently, eight of Finland's 20 hospital districts have not recorded a single new confirmed case for one week. Other districts have reported a few individual cases. Enditem