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Taiwan recommends contact tracing app for restaurants, markets, and concerts

Users need only show screen of Taiwan Social Distancing App to enter such venues

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Message users receive if they come in contact with a confirmed case. (Taiwan Social Distancing App screenshot)

Message users receive if they come in contact with a confirmed case. (Taiwan Social Distancing App screenshot)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) on Tuesday (April 12) released a list of suggested locations where the country's contact tracing app can be used as part of the "New Taiwan Model."

During a press conference, the CECC announced that the country's epidemic prevention efforts are focused on the "New Taiwan Model" to achieve its goals of "normal life, active epidemic prevention, and steady opening up." In order to strengthen proactive epidemic prevention, improve the efficiency of epidemiological investigations, and identify possible high-risk cases, the center has optimized the functionality of the Taiwan Social Distancing App (臺灣社交距離).

The app was created by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Taiwan AI Labs. It uses Bluetooth technology to sense whether a user has come within 2 meters of a confirmed COVID-19 case for more than two minutes over the past 14 days.

CECC Information Technology Team head Chien Hung-wei (簡宏偉) said the app will only be effective if it is widely used by the public. Staff in government departments and critical infrastructure providers will especially be encouraged to use it.

The CECC recommends the app for people who go to restaurants or markets or engage in activities like concerts or pilgrimages. Chien said it could serve as both a digital epidemic prevention tool and a means to trace contacts more quickly and accurately.

Chien said the app will be paired with the real-name text messaging system. When entering a venue, users need only show the screen of the app, eliminating the need to manually check in with the real-name registration system.

To use the app, simply download and install it. No registration or log-in information is required, Chien said.

In order to enhance the utility of the app, the CECC has optimized its functions, including the "dynamic home screen" and a section for confirmed cases to upload contact information. After the health department instructs a confirmed case to open the app to obtain a verification code, the system will upload an anonymous ID and information on areas where the case was recently active.

The app generates an anonymous ID every 15 minutes and uses a Bluetooth signal to record the anonymous IDs a user has come in contact with. The app updates these IDs every day.

Chien reminded the public to enable the Bluetooth function to activate the app's functions. If a user is notified that they have come in contact with a confirmed case, the app will issue a warning notification with instructions.

Those who have yet to download the app can find it under "Taiwan Social Distancing" on the Android and iOS app stores.