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Belgium launches Coronalert app

16:28 30/09/2020

Coronalert, Belgium’s digital contact Corona tracing application, is now downloadable, confirmed the country’s inter-federal testing and tracing committee.

The app was developed to help combat the coronavirus pandemic, which saw a resurgence in Belgium in September.

“The app helps us to protect each other and slow down the spread of the coronavirus,” says the app’s website. “The app uses technology to speed up contact detection in Belgium.”

App users can find out if they have been in close contact with other Coronalert-users who tested positive for the coronavirus, without knowing who they are, and can anonymously warn close contacts if you tested positive for the coronavirus yourself.

The aim of the first stage in the app’s development is to get as many people to use the tool as possible, with a preliminary 15% target: “With 15% of the population, we can already save lives,” says Axel Legay, who designed the application. He added that devices are also being developed for people without smartphones, particularly the elderly, and/or for those who are not at ease with technology.

Legay, a cybersecurity professor at UCLouvain, says the Corona app works via the Bluetooth system. Once downloaded, it alerts other app users if someone they have come in contact with has tested positive for the coronavirus.

After receiving a prescription for a screening test, the user enters a code into the app. This code will be linked to the code of his or her medical results. If the test is positive, the app will alert anyone who has been in contact with the user.

The Corona app, is welcomed by consumer rights organisation Test-Achats/Test-Aankoop for protecting users from hacking and its high privacy levels. It can also track if a user has been in a red zone and then warn other app holders if they are closer than 1.5 metres to that person.

“But it is impossible to know who has become ill and when,” says Legay, adding that the 17-digit code has nothing to do with a person’s identity card number or any other personal details. “The app is totally anonymous, and the code’s data are wiped out after 14 days.”

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