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Ireland’s Covid tracker app officially launched

The Covid Tracker App for Ireland has been launched today by the Department of Health and HSE.

The app aims to enhance existing contact tracing measures by enabling users to identify close contacts and to alert those who are using the app of the need for Covid-19 testing as quickly as possible.

According to the Department, the app has been developed with privacy by design at its core, employing a decentralised model.

“This means that it will record if a user is in close contact with another user by exchanging anonymous codes. If a person tests positive for Covid-19, they can choose to anonymously alert other app users who they have been in close contact with. Close contact data is stored on the users’ phone and not a government server.”

In advance of today’s launch, the HSE and Department published the Data Privacy Impact Assessment and source code for the app “demonstrating the openness and transparency of the app technology”.

For more information about the app and to view a series of simple explainer videos, please go to https://www.covidtracker.ie/

Commenting on the role of the app, Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly said: “Together we have made a huge collective effort in recent months to limit the spread of Covid-19. As we ease restrictions, many important aspects of Irish life are returning and we are able to access more services and to meet more people.

“The introduction of the Covid Tracker App will allow us to speed up reporting and tracing from the first onset of the symptoms of Covid-19, making app’s role in testing and contact tracing vital to the continued momentum of the reopening of Irish society and business.”

The app development process has been led by the HSE and the Department in collaboration with the Office of the Government Chief Information Officer (OGCIO) and An Garda Síochána, together with technical partners from the Irish private sector and scientific partners from Science Foundation Ireland.

 Research conducted by Science Foundation Ireland shows that the majority of people in Ireland are in favour of an app with 82 per cent of respondents willing to install it.

Acting Chief Medical Officer Dr Ronan Glynn said: “Today we are asking the people of Ireland to download the Covid Tracker App. Until we have a vaccine, or an effective treatment, testing and contact tracing are vital to our ongoing collective efforts to minimise the spread of Covid-19.

“The app is integral to contact tracing, working in tandem with the key public health measures of social distancing, hand washing, covering our coughs and wearing face coverings, helping us to stay safe and to protect each other.”

Mr Paul Reid, Chief Executive Officer, HSE, added:  “The app will enhance the existing contact tracing operations. For those using the app, it can mean a reduction in the time it takes to trace close contacts from days to hours and, importantly, it can also help to identify close contacts who are not known to each other.

“Every additional contact that the app can trace will improve our existing contact tracing operations. By downloading the app, you are helping us to reach more people in a shorter time period and to provide the right advice and access to testing. This will increase our capacity to suppress the virus.”

According to Dr Sarah Doyle, Specialist in Public Health Medicine, HSE Health Protection Surveillance Centre: “The HSE testing and contact tracing operation continues to be critical to Ireland’s response to Covid-19. As society reopens, the Covid Tracker App represents a simple way that we can all work together to continue to suppress Covid-19. The app will support our capacity to trace close contacts quickly, which is essential in containing the spread of this virus.”

The Covid Tracker App is now available to download from the App Store and Google Play and has three specific functions:

  1. Digital contact tracing of close contacts of confirmed cases of COVID-19.
  2. Allows users to record if they have symptoms.
  3. Provide daily information about Covid-19 from a trusted source.

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