A Covid-19 (coronavirus) tracing app released in Australia hit almost 2.5 million downloads within its first two days of launch, though the government noted it will need close to half of the population to opt-in for the move to be successful.

In a transcript of a media Q&A session, Australian minister of Health Greg Hunt said the app had been downloaded 2.44 million times, “ten-times the speed we had expected”.

“Where we are at now was where we had hoped to be in ten days time,” he said.

The app was downloaded 1 million times on the day of its launch (26 April), but despite the rapid initial uptake there is still along way to go, with the government estimating at least 40 per cent of Australia’s 26 million population (around 10.4 million people) will need to download the app to make it effective.

Privacy concerns
Australia joins a handful of other major nations in the region to launch a contact tracing app.

A similar app launched in India became the fastest to hit 50 million downloads, Bloomberg reported, with services also available in Singapore and South Korea, among others.

However, like other nations, the Australian government faced privacy concerns around its move. Officials have emphasised data collected by the CovidSafe app will be encrypted and stored on phones for 21 days. They noted the information will be permanently deleted once the pandemic is over, with the data also removed if users ditch the app.

Other countries are also yet to determine ways to employ apps to tackle the outbreak, with Germany reportedly considering a decentralised system being developed by Google and Apple, and the UK also seeking collaboration with global tech companies.