The new Covid contact finder app has already been downloaded by 250,000 phone users.
The free Covid-19 tracking app was officially launched today and aims to allow users to be contacted if they have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for the virus.
The user can also enter the symptoms that are worrying them and indicate if they may need a test.
It needs a 60pc grip to be effective.
Health Minister Stephen Donnelly TD said at the launch today: “Together we have made a huge collective effort in recent months to limit the spread of COVID-19. As we relax the restrictions, many important aspects of Irish life are coming back and we can access more services and meet more people. “
“Today is very good news, you know the country has been through so much and there has been so much loss and individual suffering, and it’s quite rare that we have a day where we can say you know what , we ‘bring a powerful new tool to bear that all of us can pick up and use in the fight against this terrible disease, ”Mr. Donnelly told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland.
He added that the app will not eradicate Covid-19 but is an “additional tool” in the fight against it.
“Each of us who downloads this helps in the national struggle, it helps us to make ourselves safer. It helps to make everyone safer for those we know and those we don’t know,” he said. -he declares.
Acting Chief Medical Officer Dr Ronan Glynn said: “Today we call on the Irish people to download the COVID Tracker app. Until we have a vaccine or effective treatment, testing and contact tracing is essential to our continued collective efforts to minimize the spread of COVID-19.
“The app is an integral part of contact tracing, working in tandem with key public health measures of social distancing, hand washing, covering our coughs and wearing face covers, helping us stay in touch. safety and protect each other. ”
Paul Reid, CEO of HSE, added, “The app will enhance existing contact tracing operations. For those who use the app, it can mean a reduction in the time it takes to find close contacts from a few days to a few hours and most importantly, it can also help identify close contacts who do not know each other.
“Each additional contact the app can trace will improve our existing contact tracing operations. By downloading the app, you help us reach more people in a shorter timeframe and provide the right advice and access to tests. This will increase our ability to remove the virus. “
The COVID Tracker app is now available for download on the App Store and Google Play and has three specific functions:
* Digital contact tracing of close contacts of confirmed COVID-19 cases.
* Allows users to record if they have symptoms.
* Provide daily information on COVID-19 from a reliable source.
Mr Donnelly said the app is not being used to store private information or to provide additional personal data about users to the government.
“There is no database indicating that you even downloaded the app. The only way the app is activated, in terms of informing other close contacts, is when you have received a phone call saying that you have tested positive, they will ask you if you have the app.
“If you have the app, they’ll ask you if they have your permission to basically ping other phones. You can say no,” he added.
However, there are limits to the app as it can only work on more modern smartphones.
“It is true that for iPhone 6 and up and for Android 7 and up these are the phones it runs on, and you need to have the latest operating system so that vendors have made software updates for it. make sure this app will run job.
“It’s just a limitation of the technology in terms of being able to identify distance that didn’t work on previous phones, and unfortunately it’s a technological constraint that we are working to add with the majority of people who have smartphones. in the country has phones that will have it, “said the minister.
Dr Sarah Doyle, Public Health Medicine Specialist, HSE HPSC commented: “The HSE testing and contact tracing operation continues to be critical to Ireland’s response to COVID-19. As the company reopens, the COVID Tracker app represents a simple way for all of us to work together to continue to remove COVID-19.
“The app will support our ability to quickly trace close contacts, which is critical to containing the spread of this virus.”
The app development process was led by the HSE and the Ministry of Health, in collaboration with the Office of the Government Information Director (OGCIO) and An Garda Síochána, as well as technical partners from the private sector. Irish and Scientific Partners of the Science Foundation. Ireland.
A study by the Science Foundation Ireland shows that the majority of Irish people are in favor of an app, with 82% of those surveyed ready to install it.
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