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‘Failed’ $21m COVIDSafe phone app scrapped

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The federal government has scrapped the COVIDSafe app as it is no longer being used for contact tracing.

Touted as a pathway out of lockdown when launched two years ago, the app has since been dubbed a complete failure.

Only two positive COVID cases not otherwise found by manual tracers were identified through the app since April 2020.

It also identified only 17 close contacts that hadn’t already been identified manually.

There were a total 7.9 million registrations of the app in the month following its launch but less than 800 users consented to their data being added to the National COVIDSafe Data Store for contact tracing.

On Tuesday, app users were sent a notification advising them the program is no longer in use and encouraging them to delete it.

“COVIDSafe is being decommissioned. The app is no longer being used in contact tracing,” it read.

“This update removes functionality of the app so no information is stored or collected. This will enable the decommission process of COVIDSafe.”

Health Minister Mark Butler said the app failed as a public health measure and was “a colossal waste of more than $21 million of taxpayers money”.

Meanwhile, business travel is making a comeback despite rising COVID-19 case numbers across Australia.

More than 21,000 more infections and 117 deaths were announced in NSW, Victoria and Queensland on Wednesday, following more than 100 fatalities reported nationwide the previous day.

There are more than 265,000 active virus cases nationally, with more than 4500 patients in hospital care.

Travel management company Corporate Traveller said the ongoing Omicron wave meant businesses needed to continue more detailed planning.

Global managing director Tom Walley said understanding the terms of travel insurance, selecting staff who had recently recovered from COVID and having back-up travellers ready could provide some certainty for business and those travelling.

He said it was also important to be aware of destination requirements and restrictions.

The federal government’s Smartraveller website warns that, despite increasing vaccination numbers, countries and territories continue to experience sudden disease outbreaks.

“If you’re considering travelling overseas, you must understand the risks of contracting COVID-19 in your destination and the financial implications this may have on you, and those travelling with you,” it says.

Australia’s latest 24-hour COVID data:

NSW: 11,356 cases, 30 deaths, 2212 in hospital with 55 in ICU

Victoria: 5898 cases, 52 deaths, 610 in hospital with 30 in ICU

Queensland: 3809 cases, 35 deaths, 656 in hospital with 21 in ICU

Tasmania: 669 cases, one death, 76 in hospital with none in ICU

Northern Territory: 205 cases, one death, 33 in hospital with two in ICU

Western Australia: 2889 cases, four deaths, 339 in hospital with eight in ICU

– AAP

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