Contact tracing apps could support the gradual lifting of confinement measures in Europe

2020. 05. 14.

Since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, Member States, backed by the European Commission, have been assessing the digital solutions to address the crisis. During today’s plenary debate of the European Parliament, MEPs acknowledged that for limiting the spread of coronavirus pandemic, tracing apps monitoring contact with infected people can be useful tool for lifting containment measures. Fidesz MEP Edina Tóth welcomed the draft EU toolbox and highlighted that „well-coordinated contact tracing apps can play an important role at certain phases of the crisis management, especially when it will to gradually lift social distancing measures”.

Edina Tóth stressed in her written statement that mobile apps could warn us of infection risks and support Member States’ health authorities with contact tracing, which is essential to break transmission chains. According to the EPP politician, we must continue to flatten the curve and keep it down. “Without compliant digital technologies the current approach cannot be efficient,” she emphasized.

According to the Commission a common approach to each functionalities, in particular on information and symptom tracking, must be developed in future iterations of the new toolbox. The EU institution added that the Member States’ cooperation will be also important to devise and refine the use of the practical tools.

MEP Edina Tóth highlighted that mobile apps could well-complement existing manual contact tracing and help to interrupt the transmission chain of the virus. However, she stressed that the toolbox of such mobile apps must be accompanied by guidance on data protection. “We must make the best use of technology while we will not compromise on the privacy requirements. Apps should be anchored in accepted epidemiological guidance by Member States’ public health authorities and reflect best practice on cybersecurity and accessibility,” the Fidesz MEP closed her intervention.

Background information:

Member States should report on their actions by 31 May 2020 and make the measures accessible to other Member States and the Commission for peer review. At the same time, the VirusRadar mobile application is now available for download in Hungary, and its mass use can be a useful tool in controlling the epidemic.The Commission, however, would assess the progress made and publish periodic reports starting in June 2020 and throughout the crisis, recommending action or the phasing out of measures that seem no longer necessary.