StopCOVID NI app to be extended to under-18s next month

  • The StopCOVID NI contact tracing app is to be extended to children and young people from next month, Health Minister Robin Swann has announced.

    The app was launched on 31 July in Northern Ireland and has been downloaded more than 300,000 times to date.

    It is currently limited to over 18’s but Minister Swann stated this will change from September onwards, adding: “My department has worked with the Children’s Commissioner and the Information Commissioner’s Office to identify a way that younger people can get consent to use it without impacting anonymity.

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    “This is very good news – especially with school, colleges and universities re-starting.”

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    Minister Swann urged everyone who has not yet downloaded the app to do so as soon as possible. He said: “Passing the 300,000 mark is a great achievement in a short space of time but we have to maintain the momentum.

    “The more people get on board, the more effective the app will be in breaking chains of transmission of the virus. It only takes a few minutes to download it and this simple step could prevent you from spreading Covid-19 to your family and friends, and reduce the chances of another lockdown.”

    The Department of Health has said the StopCOVID NI app protects the anonymity of all users and works alongside the telephone based contact tracing operation to help limit virus spread.

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    To date, 160 people who have had a positive test for Covid have uploaded data from their apps (the ‘diagnosis keys’) and 237 others have been alerted through an ‘exposure notification’ in the app, advising them to self-isolate.

    The integration across the island of Ireland has also been seen to be working well, with the 160 Northern Ireland ‘diagnosis keys’ being passed across the border to health authorities in the Republic of Ireland, and 1,042 ‘diagnosis keys’ from ROI being passed in return.

    Dan West, the Department of Health’s chief digital information officer said: “We are continuing to work to improve the app and have been receiving helpful feedback from users.

    “We released an updated version of the app last week, reflecting the feedback, and correcting all minor issues reported by users. We will continue to respond to the public’s feedback, and very much welcome it.”

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    About the author

    Niamh is a Sync NI writer with a previous background of working in FinTech and financial crime. She has a special interest in sports and emerging technologies. To connect with Niamh, feel free to send her an email or connect on Twitter.

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