Northern Ireland's Coronavirus contract tracing app launches this week

  • With the UK's contact-tracing app in limbo, Northern Ireland is to launch its own app this week based on Ireland's app.

    As countries around the world start to lift lockdown restrictions from the coronavirus outbreak, contact-tracing is playing an important part in the plan to control the spread of the virus. Those who test positive for the virus are currently asked questions about those they may have come into contact with so that those people can also get tested.

    Standard contact-tracing doesn't help for incidental contact such as being on public transport with someone, and that's where contact-trracing apps come in. The apps use bluetooth to record when they come in contact with another phone also using the app, and can tehn send warnings to all those who have been in close contact if the user is later diagnosed with Covid-19.

    Contact-tracing is incredibly important for this pandemic because the virus can be transmitted by someone before they show any symptoms, and a percentage of those who are infected and able to spread the virus are completely asymptomatic. Every country is working on its own app to do contact-tracing, and the UK app has been plagued with problems that mean it probably won't be in place until September.

    Ireland released its app earlier this month, while Northern Ireland has been using only traditional phone-based contact-tracing until now. Northern Ireland is now releasing its own app this week, making it the first UK region to get a contact-tracing app in place. The Stop Covid NI app has been designed by Nearform, the same firm that designed the Republic of Ireland's app.

    The app is expected to launch as eaqrly as Wednesday 29th this week, and will be available on iOS and Android. It will use the same process as the Ireland app by performing bluetooth handshakes with nearby phones, and those who get a positive Covid-19 test will get a unique code by text-message that they can enter into the app to warn people they've come into contact with to get tested.

    Source: BBC News


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