App to track and trace Covid-19 infections being developed

A special mobile phone app to track and trace Covid-19 infections is being developed by health authorities.
App to track and trace Covid-19 infections being developed

A special mobile phone app to track and trace Covid-19 infections is being developed by health authorities.

It is expected that members of the general public and those who are sick could be asked to use the phone or computer facility in a bid to restrict the spread of the virus and even contain possible clusters. Nonetheless, it is expected to be an opt-in service.

Department of Taoiseach assistant secretary-general Elizabeth Canavan confirmed that the Department of Health and HSE are working on the special app.

Data protection experts have cautioned this week about setting up such a system which could see movements of people tracked online, with outstanding questions about where the information will be stored and if people can be identified.

It is understood that the Data Protection Commissioner's office is also liaising with health authorities on the proposed plan.

Speaking this morning, Ms Canavan said:

“As part of the national response to Covid-19, work is underway to develop a new mobile Covid-19 app for real-time symptom tracking and digital contact tracing. Intensive work has been underway, between the Department of Health, the Health Service Executive and direct support from the office of the government chief information officer, and other technical expertise across the public service, and elsewhere.

The implementation timeline will be determined by the technical progress and results from intensive testing that is currently taking place.”

Elsewhere, mourners have been advised to restrict numbers when laying their loved ones to rest.

Ms Canavan added:

“I can confirm that immediate family members can still attend funeral services burials and cremations, provided the social distancing rules are respected. This relates to all funerals, including those arising out of covert 19 deaths.

“While we know this is difficult in general numbers attending should not exceed 10 persons in places of worship, and at the graveside. But this may be restricted further in smaller and closed spaces. Individual churches may also put in place restrictions which respond to specific local circumstances.”

Meanwhile, pensioners are being advised by the government to nominate agents to collect their pensions at post offices or to go to the bank for them. This is in line with cocooning guidelines issues for the most vulnerable to the virus, including those aged over 70.

Ms Canavan added:

“So we are aware that there are over 460,000 persons aged over 70 who are in receipt of a pension. Those aged over 70 are required to cocoon, but we understand that many are attending post offices to collect their pension and pay utility bills, etc.

“There are alternatives available, such as the ability to nominate an agent to collect their pension, which is no paid fortnightly. It's also important to note that the payment will remain valid for collection in the post office for 90 days after the date of issue.”

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