France renames coronavirus app in attempt to boost downloads as cases hit highest in Europe

Anthony Cuthbertson
 a smartphone showing the new “TousAntiCovid” application in Rennes, western France, on 22 October, 2020 (AFP via Getty Images)
a smartphone showing the new “TousAntiCovid” application in Rennes, western France, on 22 October, 2020 (AFP via Getty Images)

France has renamed its coronavirus contact-tracing app in an attempt to boost downloads and slow down the still-surging case numbers.

TousAntiCovid (All against Covid) replaces StopCovid after the original app was downloaded just 2.6 million times since it launched in June.

The move comes amid a devastating second wave of the deadly virus in the country, with record new daily cases reaching above 30,000 this week.

France now has the highest number of new Covid-19 cases in Europe, ahead of the UK and Spain.

France’s technology minister, Cédric O, admitted failures with the first app and said that the new version would only have an impact in slowing the spread of the virus if a large number of people download it.

“We have to be extremely clear about the StopCovid app. The app hasn’t been downloaded enough to be a really useful tool in the fight against the coronavirus," he said during a press conference on Thursday.

“If we have to take responsibility, we take it, and me first. But this insufficient adoption is also unfortunately, collectively, a missed opportunity."

The new TousAntiCovid app works in a similar way to the old app by using a phone’s Bluetooth connection to detect other app users nearby.

An update means users can activate it whenever necessary, such as entering public transport or a crowded space.

The app sends an alert if the user comes in contact with someone who has tested positive for Covid-19. It also allows users to check the latest information regarding the pandemic in their local area.

Last week, President Emmanuel Macron ordered a curfew on nine cities in France, including Paris, Toulouse and Marseille.

The new rules forbid people from leaving their homes between 9pm and 6am and is set to last at least four weeks.

“We have to act,” Macron said in a televised appearance last week.

“We need to put a brake on the spread of the virus. The message I want to send… is that we need each other to find solutions. We will get through this together."

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