Dutch coronavirus app to launch on Sept. 1

The Dutch government's coronavirus notification app, CoronaMelder, will be launched throughout the Netherlands on September 1, Minister Hugo de Jonge of Public Health announced in a letter to parliament. Before that, a number of practical and safety tests will be done and the Dutch Data Protection Authority will evaluate the app. 

The app is meant to be a supplement for health service GGD's source and contact tracing with coronavirus patients. The idea is that someone who tests positive for Covid-19 will enter that into the app, which will then send a notification to all phones that was in the patient's vicinity while they were possibly contagious. 

The use of the app is entirely voluntary and no data about users or their whereabouts are stored, the Minister stressed. He is currently working on a bill to make sure that people are never forced, directly or indirectly, to use the app if they don't want to. For example, a restaurant can't make the use of CoronaMelder compulsory before someone is allowed to enter. 

The CoronaMelder is currently being tested among a few hundred people in Twente. From August 17, the test will be tested in practice in the Twente and Rotterdam-Rijnmond regions. The intention is to launch it nationwide on September 1.

"We must do everything we can to prevent a second corona wave," De Jonge said. "With the app we can catch the virus faster and prevent infections. The more people who download the app, the better. We are the dyke that can stop that second wave."