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Belgium won’t use coronavirus contact-tracing apps, minister says

The Belgian government has decided not to use apps to trace the path of coronavirus infections, the telecommunications minister said, in a U-turn after initially pushing the idea.

“There is no need for an app for contact tracing. It can be done manually and it has been around for years,” Philippe De Backer told television channel VRT.

While Belgium was one of the first European nations to express an interest in mobile data and the development of smartphone apps to pinpoint those in the country of 11.5 million at risk of infection, De Backer said on Thursday this had been ruled out for now.

Contact-tracing apps are already used in Asian countries hard hit by coronavirus outbreaks, but copying their approach by using location data would violate tight privacy laws in the European Union.

Belgium has recorded 42,797 cases of Covid-19 infections and 6,490 deaths thus far, Reuters said.