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Corona warning app: what should I do if I have a red warning?


The Corona warning app is currently issuing more red warning messages than ever before. But how does it calculate the risk and how should those affected react? Answers to nine frequently asked questions.

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People waiting in front of a test center in Quedlinburg

Photo: Matthias Bein / dpa

The Corona warning app sent more than 1.2 million warnings of risk contacts in the past week, more than ever since the beginning of the pandemic.

Last Wednesday alone, the app issued more than 230,000 warnings of contacts with a particularly high risk of infection, a new record at this point in time.

With the advent of the omicron variant of the coronavirus, there should be many more record numbers in the near future.

The warning messages are likely to lead to many questions among users.

We answer some of the most important things about the warning app and its current development.

What is the difference between a red and a green display in the Corona warning app?

After opening the app, the app shows on a red or green tile how high the risk of infection was in the past 14 days.

A green display can mean two things: Either there have been no encounters at all with other app users who tested positive in the last two weeks or there were encounters, but the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) still rates the risk of infection as low.

You can see exactly what applies in your case in the text window of the green tile, where you can see how many risk encounters you have had.

One thing is the same for all green ads: They do not require any action from the user.

There is a need for action, however, if contacts with an increased risk are displayed in red.

According to the recommendations of the Federal Ministry of Health, those affected should stay at home, reduce their personal contacts and contact the health department or the family doctor or the medical on-call service on 116117 - they will decide how to proceed.

How does the app decide whether I have a low or high risk of infection?

The app calculates a so-called risk score.

It essentially consists of four parameters:

  • the duration of an encounter

  • the time that has passed since the encounter

  • the risk of transmission, determined by how long the contact person was infected

  • how many meters away the risk contact was calculated based on the so-called attenuation value of the Bluetooth signals

For its risk calculation, the app evaluates the entire course of a meeting, so it does not automatically rate it as an increased risk if you come closer once to greet each other, but the encounter then takes place at a safe distance.

All factors are offset in a mathematical process, which the app developers explain in detail here, but which has already been adapted to new scientific findings.

In short, the app can currently jump to red from an encounter of at least nine minutes at a distance of 1.5 meters.

But even several encounters with a low risk, which in themselves only lead to a green warning, may add up to trigger a red warning message.

In principle, risk contacts of five minutes or more are included in the risk calculation.

For the warning app, a distance of 1.5 meters or less is considered a “very close distance range” and thus a particularly high risk factor, a distance between 1.5 meters and 3 meters as a “close distance range”.

Does the Corona warning app notify me of new warnings via push notification?

If you have allowed push notifications for the app, you will receive a generally formulated notice after a risk contact, which prompts you to open the app yourself.

You can activate this on iPhones in the system settings under "Notifications" and there in the Corona warning app.

On Android devices, this is done in the settings via »Notifications« and the sub-item »App settings«, there you will find the entry for the Corona warning app.

Depending on the device manufacturer, the names in the menu may differ.

Can I use the app to find out when and where a risk encounter took place?

This information can now be read at least partially in the app.

Users can see the day on which a risk encounter took place; this information remains visible for 14 days.

Since the app was updated, this has been the case for encounters with a high and low risk of infection and can help to limit possible risk contacts and better assess the risk of infection.

Under no circumstances can the warning app provide information about the location of risk contacts because location data is not recorded.

Should I go to work if the Corona warning app shows an increased risk (red)?


At least not if you can work from home without any problems.

A »red warning« does not mean that you are automatically on sick leave and do not have to work at all.

The warning is accompanied by a message in the app to go home or stay at home if possible and to contact the family doctor, the medical on-call service on 116117 or the responsible health department.

You then have to agree whether you should be tested or put in quarantine.

"If possible" also means: There is no obligation to stay at home.

Since the app is not only used for self-protection, but also for that of other citizens, it would simply be a responsible reaction and a sensible precaution to stay at home for the time being.

Do I get a free PCR test if my warning app shows red?

Unfortunately, the official information on this is not entirely clear.

According to the currently applicable coronavirus test regulation, you are entitled to a free test if the warning app indicates an increased risk.

However, it does not say that it has to be a PCR test.

The national test strategy states that asymptomatic contacts who have received a warning from the app about an increased risk

can be

tested with a PCR test if the treating doctor or the public health service consider a test to be necessary.

The developers of the app, on the other hand, say that, so that doctors' practices and health authorities are not burdened even more, »if you have no symptoms or risk factors, you should go to a test center as soon as possible, show your red tile and take a test there . If you receive a warning about an increased risk, you are entitled to a free trial. It doesn't necessarily have to be a PCR test. «The last two sentences are also in the app itself if someone receives a red warning.

A note from a Hamburg test provider on its website shows that you cannot be sure that you will get a free PCR test everywhere: »A free PCR test based on the red Corona warning app will only be available up to a maximum of 3 days after the encounter guaranteed. ”However, the app rarely warns that quickly, after all, the infected must first have a positive result and share it in the app.

So you may have to contact several test centers if you want to do a PCR test.

Has the warning app been adapted to the increased risk of infection from the Omikron variant?


The last major adjustment took place in April 2021, i.e. before the delta variant became dominant in Germany and long before the advent of Omikron.

The developers have considered changing the algorithm internally, but have not yet seen enough scientific evidence to update it accordingly.

In principle, however, this would be possible for users at any time according to the RKI's specifications and without an update of the app.

Internally, one argument against readjustment is that lower threshold values ​​would lead to a further significant increase in warnings.

This could cause more false warnings, which in turn could damage trust in the app, and also lead to more crowds at the test centers.

Read more here.

The Ministry of Health basically states that "the previous principles of risk calculation are suitable for reliably warning CWA users even in the event of contact with the Omikron variant of infected people".

Can recovered people save their status in the warning app?

Yes, this has been possible since version 2.5 was released in July.

Since then, a certificate of recovery can be uploaded there.

This means that those who have recovered can also prove their status when checking into restaurants, for example.

Is my warning app up to date?

As operators of the app, Telekom and SAP regularly publish new updates for it.

As an iPhone user, you can find out whether your version is up to date by searching for the warning app in the Apple App Store.

There you can also update the app if your version is out of date.

As an Android user, you can find out in a similar way in the Google Play Store whether your warning app is up to date.

If you are using an older version, you will be offered an "update" of the app in the Play Store.

The current version of the app is 2.15.1.

According to SPIEGEL information, a new version is planned for the third week of January.

Source: spiegel

All tech articles on 2022-01-10

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