See the app tracking coronavirus in your neighbourhood
A free app pinpointing coronavirus hot spots in your neighbourhood has been launched in Australia, and could proactively warn you if there is a chance you have come into contact with an infected person.
The developer behind the app, called Snewpit, said it was designed to speed up notifications from COVID-19 victims and avoid delays which risked seeing more people infected.
Despite concerns coronavirus smartphone alerts could cause more panic, a community psychologist said the information could actually help calm "stressed" and sometimes "hysterical" shoppers.
It comes as Australia's tally of confirmed coronavirus cases hit 448, including 210 in New South Wales, spiking massively over the month of March.
Snewpit creator Charlie Khoury told News Corp he created the app to work as a social network for location-based alerts, and hoped it could be used to "reduce delays" in getting health information to the public as well as tracing the movements of coronavirus victims.
"There's all this talk about flattening the curve and reducing the impact of coronavirus but there's not enough information about where the virus is," he said.
"If you come back from the doctor with a confirmed case, you could post in the app where you had been beforehand, whether it was a cafe, a shopping centre, or you went on a train. You could use it to inform others."
Mr Khoury said Snewpit users could be alerted when a coronavirus case was reported near them, or they could set up three locations they visited often, such as schools or restaurants, and be notified of events near them.
He said users did not need to use their real names or submit identifying information in the app to protect privacy and the app did not feature ads or a cost.
Mr Khoury admitted some users could be concerned about the app's potential to cause more panic in the community but said having more information could help soothe fearful individuals.
"Some people might think supplying this kind of information will cause panic but I think it will do the opposite," he said.
"If we can map the cases, people will start to feel comfortable going places where there hasn't been an outbreak."
Psychologist Dr Marny Lishman said the reason so many Australians were panic-buying goods such as toilet paper and pasta was due to a lack of information.
"We're seeing a lot of people who are hysterical and panicking because of the unknown," she said.
"The more information we can give them and the more certainty, even if it's bad news, the better."
Dr Lishman said this behaviour would calm down over time as more people adjusted to antivirus controls and received more details about the spread of COVID-19.
The Snewpit app is available on Apple iOS and Google Android smartphones.