“Understand that it is a civic duty for people to download this application and to signal if they have had a postivie test of Covid-19,” said António Costa at the launch of the initiative, in Porto, during a ceremony attended by the Minister of Health, Marta Temido.

The ‘Stayaway Covid’ app is a voluntary mobile application that, through the use of physical proximity between ‘smartphones’, allows the quick and anonymous tracking of the contagion networks by Covid-19, informing users if they have been in the same location as someone infected with coronavirus within the past 14 days.

“Please download the application, do not be afraid”, said the Prime Minister.

As the schools and courts reopen, people return from their holidays and to their places of work and concentrations of people on public transport increases the prime minister has said that downloading the ‘Stayaway Covid’ app is a “very important” tool to stop the spread of the virus.

The only way to ensure that the Covid-19 pandemic does not get out of hand and that the country does not go through the same situation as in March and April depends “solely on the citizens”, he said, adding that the application does not guarantee a cure but it guarantees the interruption of the transmission chains. “This is a small effort, but a fundamental effort”, he said, adding that people still need to continue with wearing masks, disinfecting hands and maintaining social distance.

The Minister of Health also called for citizens to download the app while reiterating that it is a “confidential and safe” tool that is “absolutely essential” to help the work of health authorities.

The app, which is available in the Apple store and the Google store, is available in English and has been downloaded over 100,000 times.
The app works as a radar by sharing randomly generated depersonalised identifiers with nearby mobile phones. These identifiers are stored for 14 days on your mobile phone only. The app does not require access to individual’s location nor to personal data.

According to information from the app: “If someone you have been in close contact with very recently later tests positive for Covid-19, Stayaway Covid will alert you. With this information on your side you can self assess your infection risk and make decisions that will affect your health and the health of those you live and interact with.

“If you have been diagnosed with Covid-19, with the result of your test you will be given a code that will allow the app to alert all of those you have come in close contact with in the past 14 days but preserving your anonymity. This is a fundamental step to break chains of infection and protect you and others health”.

While the government is calling on citizens to download the app, consumer association Deco has highlighted reservations about Stayaway Covid in relation to the possibility of the misuse of personal data by Google and Apple.

“We cannot recommend the installation of StayAway Covid without reservation”, says Deco Proteste, adding that “the decision is on the consumer side”.

The organisation considers that “there is a possibility of undeclared and misuse of personal data by Google and Apple”.

The StayAway Covid app uses the ‘Google / Apple Exposure Notification’ system, known as GAEN, which provides access to features at the level of the mobile phone’s operating system (Android or iOS).

According to Deco Proteste, the GAEN notification system “does not follow the principle of open code and transparency about entities involved in data processing”, so “it opens the door to the possibility of third parties, in particular the two technological giants (Google and Apple), to make undeclared and improper use of the personal data obtained “.

The mobile application, being based on the GAEN system, “does not allow total scrutiny, since the code of this part of the system is not public”.