At a time when we are facing an increase in the number of novel coronavirus infections and no vaccine is available yet, the use of a mobile application to inform others about being in contact with infected people or people who have been ordered to quarantine, represents a solution which could limit the spread of the infection among the population. No one probably wants a re-closure and thus complete cessation of social life to happen again. But if you would expect the majority to be in favour of using the application, you would be wrong – the left-wing opposition is opposing the use of the application and states that the government is trying to introduce a dictatorship, even though an application is already in use in several democratic European countries, and around the world.
In February this year, an application was developed in China, which alerts users when they are in imminent danger of coronavirus infection. This was soon followed by the development of a series of applications to limit the spread of the infection. The app, which alerted users if they were traveling on a train or on the plane with someone who was infected with the coronavirus, was developed at Quihoo 360, China’s largest cyber security company. The add-on, a map which warns users in which parts of the country the virus had appeared, was developed by the Chinese search engine Baidu.
The use of application more and more widespread
The usefulness of the application was soon noticed by the other countries in the world, as it began to be used in Japan, New Zealand, India, Australia, Israel, Malaysia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, South Korea, Colombia, Ghana, and Qatar. Given that the European continent has not escaped the infections with the novel coronavirus, it is not surprising that many European countries have also chosen to follow the example of countries that use the application to prevent the second total shut down of all public life. Italy, Germany, Spain, Switzerland, Austria, the Czech Republic, France, Denmark, Latvia, Norway, Iceland, and Hungary are among the European countries that see the application as an advantage and have, therefore, started using it.
Given that we like to follow the example of countries such as Germany and Switzerland, and consider them to be an example of democracy, it is difficult to understand why using the application would be considered problematic in our country. As Bojana Beović, the head of the expert advisory group at the Ministry of Health recently explained, the application is useful for every individual, as it will help them find out when they have been in contact with an infected person, and they will then be able to act accordingly. “This means that they will distance themselves from the people who may be likely to suffer from a more severe course of the disease, and in addition, they will be able to recognize their symptoms early and seek medical help. The device, the application, works on a completely anonymous basis, neither the person who is infected nor the person who receives the information that they were in contact with someone who is infected, can find out the identity of the other person. Even the person who receives the information that they were in contact with someone who is infected, does not know who that person is, nor exactly when they met, or where.”
Opposition critical: they want to introduce police discipline and control over citizens
The opposition has already started to wage war against the application, even though the Minister of Labour, Family, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities, Janez Cigler Kralj, emphasized that the use of the application will be voluntary, except for those in quarantine, and those who will test positive for the coronavirus. The LMŠ party is especially critical of the use of the application. They believe that the government is trying to discipline and supervise the citizens in the name of the novel coronavirus. According to STA, MP Lidija Divjak Mirnik highlighted the party’s belief that the application would not have an effect because, according to them, the majority would not download it. “That is because people do not trust you anymore,” she added.
Considering that, at a time when Slovenia is facing the worst crisis since gaining its independence, we are witnessing constant attacks by the opposition, their revolt is not surprising. It is hard to understand why the need for causing a stir, given that downloading the app, is voluntary. Criticizing the fact that it would be mandatory for those who would test positive for the coronavirus and would have been ordered to quarantine, makes no sense, as they have no reason for being outdoors since they have to self-isolate. Given that we have already witnessed quarantine violations in Slovenia, it makes sense that it is necessary to ensure that the health of other people is not endangered because of the irresponsibility of some individuals. Especially those who have chronic diseases and are older.
Is it really so hard to understand that we can help ourselves by using modern technology? Tracking contacts this way is much easier than the traditional way of tracking. Especially in light of the fact that the spread of the infection has been significantly increasing in the recent period, which in turn has worsened the epidemiological situation in Slovenia. Given that the coronavirus does not choose based on first name, last name, gender, political affiliation, or sexual orientation, it is downright incomprehensible why some oppose the possibility of reducing the number of infections among the population. Should the cheap scoring of political points really always be at the forefront?