Covid tracker app surpasses 100,000 downloads ahead of launch

Tens of thousands have already registered on the HSE's Covid tracker app.
Covid tracker app surpasses 100,000 downloads ahead of launch
The HSE Covid tracker app will send notifications to those who have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for Covid-19. Picture: File photo

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly has said that take-up of the Covid-App so far this morning has been “really good” increasing from 50,000 to 100,000 downloads in the space of an hour.

“This is a really good news story. This is a powerful tool in the fight against Covid,” he told RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland.

The app provides every single person with an opportunity to assist in the fight against the virus, added the Minister.

“Please take two minutes to download the app. It is totally private.”

There is already a comprehensive testing and tracking service in place in Ireland, the app is “an extra tool” in the fight.

But it was not “a silver bullet” he warned.

Mr Donnelly said the privacy aspects of the app were impressive and that permission would be requested before any tracking measures were taken using the app.

Everyone was in control of their own data and the information was anonymised.

There was no centralised database, he said.

Officials from the Government, HSE and Department of Health officially launched the app at 11am today and it is now live.

Around €850,000 has been spent developing the technology.

Upon installing the app it will offer the chance to provide your phone number to HSE contact tracing teams.

Features also include a symptom check where you can describe your condition.

It will also send notifications to those who have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for Covid-19.

Close contact is believed to be about 15 minutes and it uses what is called a "bluetooth handshake" to speak to other devices.

That means no personal information is given out and nobody will know the identity of the person who tests positive.

However, Liam Herrick from the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) says he cannot recommend installing it at this point.

"We still don't see the case is being made that the benefits will outweigh the potential risks," said Mr Herrick.

"But there is still an opportunity for more transparency and to have a good statutory oversight mechanism "We will certainly feed into that if asked as will other scientists and engineers working in the field."

The app also has a page of advice for people who are sent that notification and are informed that they are close contacts of a positive case.

Additional reporting by Vivienne Clarke

More in this section

Lunchtime News Wrap

A lunchtime summary of content highlights on the Irish Examiner website. Delivered at 1pm each day.

Sign up