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Half a million South Africans have downloaded the COVID alert app

(Image credit: Unsplash)

Despite initial concerns about the safety of the COVID-19 tracing app, the South African government has reported that more than half a million citizens have downloaded the app. 

While the app has been available for download since the beginning of the month, it was only when President Ramaphosa asked South Africans to download the app during his national address, that people heeded the call. 

The COVID Alert SA app is a standard track and trace app which aims to help people be aware of their close contacts. The app alerts users when they've been close to another person who has self-declared that they tested positive for COVID-19. 

While this has sparked fears about the government tracking and storing data, citizens have been assured by the government and by Discovery, who built the app, that this is not the case. 

The app uses bluetooth, rather than GPS, to identify phones near to each other without identifying the individuals who own those phones. 

It is only as useful as the number of people who download it. This is why the government is hoping to reach 10 million downloads - the more citizens who have the app, the better it will work. 

As the country moves to Level 1 restrictions and more interaction occurs, these apps are the next line in defence against a surge in coronavirus cases.