The HSE has released a free app to help improve contact tracing for COVID-19. The app will be used to make it easier and faster to track people who may have come into contact with a person who has COVID-19. This will help to reduce the spread of the virus by quickly identifying people who might have been exposed to it, allowing them to arrange testing and self-isolate.
The app has been downloaded by over 500,000 people so far. The more people who download the app, the more effective it will be. The HSE are asking everyone in Ireland who has a smartphone to download the app via the Google Play or Apple App Store.
How will the HSE COVID-19 Tracker app help?
By using the app, you can help to reduce the spread of COVID-19. The app helps to speed up contact tracing, allowing health officials to get in touch with people who might have been exposed to the virus much faster.
If you test positive for the virus, a member of the contact tracing team will call you to ask about your close contacts. They can use the information you give them, along with the information from the app, so make sure that everyone you have been in close contact with is contacted. This is especially useful if you don’t remember everyone you have been in contact with, or if you don’t know their contact details.
How the HSE COVID-19 Tracker app works
By downloading the app, you can:
- Get an alert if you have been in close contact with someone who tests positive for COVID-19
- Alert others if you test positive for COVID-19 – this will help keep other people safe
- Track your symptoms and get advice on what to do if you’re sick
- Get regular updates, and protect yourself
Checking in on the app
The app allows you to check in every day to report how you are feeling. The HSE have asked people to check in even if they are feeling well. You can choose between the following two options:
- ‘I’m good, no symptoms’.
- ‘I’m not feeling well today’
If you are not feeling well, you will be asked questions about the following 4 symptoms:
- Lost or changed sense of taste or smell
The app will then offer advice based on your symptoms.
Tracking your location via bluetooth
The app is also used to track whether or not you have been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19. The app works by using the bluetooth on your phone and anonymous IDs to log information such as:
- Any phone you are in close contact with that also has the app
- The distance between your phone and another app users’ phone
- The length of time your phone is near another app users’ phone
This information, which does not contain your identity, will be downloaded by the HSE every two hours. If you have been closer than 2 metres for more than 15 minutes with any of these phones you’ll get an alert that you are a close contact.
You will need to give the app permission to use your bluetooth and leave your bluetooth on for this to work.
Your privacy on the COVID-19 Tracker app
The app uses a system called Exposure Notification System (ENS). This allows phones to share anonymous IDs using Bluetooth. This cannot be used to identify users or phones, and no one will ever know your personal details unless you choose to share them.
No one, including the HSE, will know
- Your name
- Who you met
- What locations you were in
- Who tested positive for coronavirus
Download the app
To get started, download the app from the Google Play or Apple App Store, or visit covidtracker.gov.ie