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COVID Tracer App alert sent as virus re-emerges

Wednesday, 12 August 2020  
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eHealthNews.nz editor Rebecca McBeth

 

The alert function on the NZ COVID Tracer App has been used by government for the first time, as registrations soar past 1.4 million. 

The Ministry of Health released the app in May to allow people to track their movements by scanning QR codes displayed at businesses and organisations. This assists contract tracing if there is community transmission of Covid-19, which has since emerged in Auckland.

The app alert went out to everyone who had signed into the Heritage Farm and Skyline Gondola in Rotorua at the same time as members of a South Auckland family who have since tested positive for Covid-19.

Uptake and use of the app had been lagging as New Zealand clocked up 100 days without a case of community transmission, however director general of health Ashley Bloomfield said at a media briefing on August 13 that the app had 986,000 registered users, an increase of 338,000 over the previous 48 hours.

 

More than 138,000 posters had been created and the app had recorded over 2.6 million poster scans and nearly 450,000 manual entries into people’s digital diaries.

 

Numbers have increased again rapidly since then and as of August 17 there were more than 1.4 million registered users and more than six million poster scans.


“I understand that there was some slowness for people in downloading the app because of the volume of people who were doing so, and there were some caps in place by the App Store and also Google Play: those have now been increased or lifted so that shouldn't be a problem now,” Bloomfield said last week. 

Businesses nationwide now must display a government QR code for any visitors to scan and they must comply before August 19 to avoid penalties.

Contact alerts work through ‘push notifications’ to a person’s phone and include information about the locations and timeframes where people may have been exposed to Covid-19. 

If there is a match with the information stored in a user’s digital diary, they will receive a contact alert. This does not involve transmitting any location information from the person’s phone to the Ministry of Health.

 

This article was updated on August 17.

 

Read more news:
NZ COVID Tracer app updated
Covid Tracer App updated as uptake lags


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