Authorities appeal to “all residents in Portugal” to download Stayaway covid app

Authorities are appealing to everyone in Portugal – not just Portuguese nationals but all foreign residents – to download the Stayaway covid app, which is due to be rolled out ‘any day now’.

The smartphone app is currently in a ‘pilot’ phase, being used by 1,000 people on the Android operating system.

It has not yet been adapted to run with Apple, however, which is crucial (as so many people have iPhones).

The ‘go-ahead’ from Apple is apparently ‘just days away’.

The urgency of course is that all pilot studies can be undertaken so that the app can be ready for use by the whole population.

Speaking at yesterday’s virus press briefing (in which only one death, and 167 new cases were reported against another 247 people deemed recovered) Luís Goes Pinheiro of the ‘shared services of the ministry of health’ said it is “fundamental” that everyone downloads the app when it is finally available, “keeping it connected, so that they can “use it in their day-to-day life”.

If people then go on to be diagnosed with the virus, they can ask the doctor (or health service worker who performs the test) to provide a code to insert in the application which will then enable communication of the diagnosis to all phone users who have spent time with the infected person in the preceding 48-hour period.

The app’s technology is so ‘precise’ that it will be able to pinpoint people who spent more than 15 minutes with the infected person, at a distance of less than 2-metres.

Goes Pinheiro stressed that in order to “respect” people’s privacy, data collected by the app would only be stored for 14 days. After that it will be “eliminated” to “guarantee maximum secrecy”, he said.

The protection of data has been the result, he added, of ‘close work’ between the Institute of Engineering Systems, Computers, Technology and Science and the national commission for data protection.

Similar apps are running in Germany and Ireland. Over 16 million people in Germany have downloaded their app, while 30% of the population in Ireland is using theirs.

Stressing the care that has been taken to protect citizens’ rights with this technology, President Marcelo said that he believes “people will understand at this point where the outbreak appears to be developing more positively after moments in the past where no one knew what was going to happen this is an instrument that will allow us to understand reality. It’s good for the State, for public health and above all for people”

natasha.donn@algarveresident.com