'Selfie app' to keep track of quarantined Poles

The United States now has the highest number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the world, according to data gathered both by Johns Hopkins University and The New York Times

Poland on Friday launched a smartphone app allowing people under a mandatory 14-day quarantine for coronavirus to send selfies to let authorities know they are indeed staying home.

"People in quarantine have a choice: either receive unexpected visits from the police, or download this app," Karol Manys, digital ministry spokesman, told AFP.

The "Home quarantine" app is intended for people undergoing the mandatory 14-day quarantine after returning from abroad, he said.

The app uses geolocation and facial recognition allowing quarantined users to check-in with authorities to confirm they are indeed staying at home as required.

Users first register a selfie through the app which then randomly requests more selfies throughout the day. 

The app notifies police if users fail to respond within 20 minutes.

Police said on Friday they had slapped a 500-zloty (111-euro, $118) fine on one person who had flouted the mandatory quarantine rules, adding that penalties run as high as 5,000 zlotys. 

Like other EU members, Poland has introduced a slew of measures to combat the spread of the deadly novel coronavirus, including shutting schools until Easter, closing borders to foreigners and asking people to work from home. 

A country of 38 million people, Poland had 425 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including five deaths, as of Friday.