Latvia is planning to launch an app for smartphones by adopting a new toolkit developed by the United States tech giants, Alphabet’s Google and Apple. It will become one of the first countries to launch this app for tracing contacts of the COVID-19 infected people.
The early success of the tracing apps in Singapore, Australia, and other countries has been irregular as iPhone does not support the approach of employing Bluetooth short-range radio as a means of measuring the risk of the virus infections. The Apturi Covid or Stop Covid app launched in Latvia is based on the technology launched the previous week by Google and Apple, whose Android and iOS operating systems can run 99% of the smartphones in the world.
The app developers have reportedly stated that their dependence on this standard will lead to widespread adoption as well as compatibility over time. The contact tracing apps available globally are also likely to adopt this exposure notification framework. Initially, the app was only effective for use among nearly 2 million people in the Baltic nation.
However, the approach clearly aligns the country with a loose coalition of countries in Europe, including Estonia, Switzerland, and Germany. These are working on developing a link across borders via their national apps. This interoperability, like that of mobile roaming, will enable the users to run the app even when they travel abroad, providing greater assistance to the governments to ease the travel restrictions as well as avoid the 2nd wave of the pandemic.
The new app will be available for voluntary download, with the health authorities of the country anticipating an initial take-up of nearly 20% of the country’s population. It will keep track of people whom the users come in contact with for over 15 minutes and notify the contacts of the patients who have recently been contracted with the virus.