COVID-19: COVIDSafe app praised by PM, Western NSW residents urged to download

COVID SAFE: Health Minister Greg Hunt says the COVIDSafe app is no failure with Western NSW residents urged to download it now. Photo: SHUTTERSTOCK
COVID SAFE: Health Minister Greg Hunt says the COVIDSafe app is no failure with Western NSW residents urged to download it now. Photo: SHUTTERSTOCK

THE COVIDSafe app may have been labelled as a "$2 million failure" by the Opposition, but residents in Western NSW have still be encouraged to download it.

As coronavirus cases continue to surge in Victoria with multiple NSW locations now subject to outbreaks, health authorities are urging people to be vigilant.

It has been almost three months since the last COVID-19 case was detected in the Western NSW Local Health District and there are currently no active cases in this region.

Health Minister Greg Hunt rejected claims the app had failed, and said it "does what it was intended to do".

While the Department of Health said more than 6.63 million Australians had downloaded the COVIDSafe app, it could not say how many of them were in Western NSW.

"The Department of Health is unable to provide details on the geographic spread of downloads of the COVIDSafe app," a spokesperson said.

"Data generated during registration, including post codes, is protected by law and unavailable to the Commonwealth, including the Department of Health."

While the app claims to speed up contacting people exposed to COVID-19, no states or territories have reported the tracing app has found any cases not already identified through manual contact tracing.

Mr Hunt, however, said more than 200 cases had been identified through the use of the app.

Meanwhile, more than 9000 COVID-19 test have been conducted across the Western NSW Local Health District during the past month.

The Dubbo local government area leads the way with 1970 tests, followed by Orange at 1877, Bathurst at 1876 and Mid-Western at 1089.

There have been 725 coronavirus tests during the 30 days in Lithgow, 562 in the Hilltops LGA, 385 in Cowra, 327 in Parkes, 231 in Forbes and 147 in Oberon.

The Department of Health spokesperson said the app is used by state and territory health officials "when data is available to supplement their current contact tracing processes".

"The app is an important part of the protections in place, along with physical distancing and good hygiene, to suppress the spread of the virus," he said.

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This story COVIDSafe app is no failure with Western NSW residents urged to download first appeared on Lithgow Mercury.