The StopCOVID NI app is to be extended to children and young people from next month, Health Minister Robin Swann has announced.
The app was launched on July 31 and has already been downloaded more than 300,000 times.It is currently limited to over 18’s but that will soon change.
The Health Minister stated: “I am pleased to confirm that we are on course to extend the StopCOVID NI app to children and young people from September.
“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.
“This is very good news – especially with school, colleges and universities re-starting.”
Mr Swann urged everyone who has not yet downloaded the app to do so as soon as possible.
“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 StopCOVID NI app protects the anonymity of all users. It works alongside the telephone based contact tracing operation to help limit virus spread.
To date, 160 people who have had a positive test for COVID have uploaded data from their apps (the ‘diagnosis keys’) and then 237 others have been alerted through an ‘exposure notification’ in the app, advising them to self-isolate. The integration across the island of Ireland is also 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’ being passed in return.
Dan West, Department of Health 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.”