Health ministry to hold digital event to test coronavirus apps

In the weekend of 18 and 19 April the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport is holding an ‘appathon’, a digital event to test and improve new coronavirus apps. Organisations, independent experts and other interested parties will be able to follow developers’ progress and offer advice. The website where the event will take place will be announced on Friday 17 April. The government will take on board the advice of experts and members of the public when deciding next week on the use of apps to track the spread of coronavirus and monitor symptoms.

Last week health minister Hugo de Jonge said the government was considering introducing apps, as advised by the Outbreak Management Team. Apps could give people more responsibility for tracking contacts with infected individuals and reporting any symptoms they may have. This would support and speed up the work of the municipal health services (GGDs) on tracing coronavirus sources and contacts.

The ministry is looking for an app that notifies users when they have been near another user who later tests positive for coronavirus, and an app that enables users to keep their doctor up to date on their symptoms without leaving their home.

The ministry received around 750 suggestions in response to its call to contribute to the development and use of apps in the fight against coronavirus (Dutch). These are now being assessed against the requirements of the GGDs and the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM), as well as strict requirements on privacy and data security.

This is expected to result in a shortlist of around 5 apps that will be closely examined during the ‘appathon’ weekend by experts from within and outside government and by members of the public. The apps’ developers will be able make improvements to their app over the course of the weekend to ensure an optimum fit with both the GGDs’ work processes and the other strict requirements. Only apps that make a real contribution and meet all the requirements are eligible. During the ‘appathon’ everyone can assess whether the apps satisfy the requirements. The developers will also share their source codes with experts, so that these can be assessed.

The government will announce next week whether and how apps can be used to support the GGDs’ work in a safe and secure way.

For more information about the approach to tackling coronavirus in the Netherlands, go to