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Covid-19 app launch in Northern Ireland is imminent – Health Minister

Robin Swann said a smartphone app will be compatible with the app introduced in the Republic of Ireland earlier this month.

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The Covid Tracker app introduced by the Irish government will be compatible with an app to be launched in Northern Ireland (Niall Carson/PA)

The Covid Tracker app introduced by the Irish government will be compatible with an app to be launched in Northern Ireland (Niall Carson/PA)

The Covid Tracker app introduced by the Irish government will be compatible with an app to be launched in Northern Ireland (Niall Carson/PA)

A smartphone app aimed at tracking the spread of coronavirus is set to be launched in Northern Ireland “imminently”.

Health Minister Robin Swann told the Stormont Assembly that the app will help to break transmission chains and reduce the reproductive rate of Covid-19.

He said it will be “interoperable” with the equivalent app in the Republic of Ireland, and is also “highly likely” to be compatible with apps introduced in future across the UK and Europe.

“This will be the first instance of such a solution worldwide and we’ll be the first example of such apps operating in an interoperable manner,” he told MLAs.

“The Stop Covid NI app is due to go live imminently but the date that it will be released for download will be subject to the review process undertaken by the (Apple) App Store and Google Play.

If we can get significant numbers to download it, it will play an important part in augmenting the existing contact tracing processes in our efforts to stop the spread of Covid-19Health Minister Robin Swann

“The app was designed using the Information Commissioner Office’s privacy by design principles and therefore uses only anonymised information in its operation.

“I would appeal to all members to encourage their constituents to download the app. If we can get significant numbers to download it, it will play an important part in augmenting the existing contact tracing processes in our efforts to stop the spread of Covid-19.”

Stormont health committee chairman Colm Gildernew welcomed the announcement.

“I think that is a welcome step and something that is obviously of huge importance as we work to maintain the control of the virus in the future,” he said.

Mr Swann also announced that from August 3, rolling Covid-19 testing will commence in care homes which do not have a confirmed outbreak of the virus.

He said staff will be tested fortnightly and residents on a monthly basis.

“As a Covid-19 test will only confirm whether someone has Covid-19 at the time the test takes place, the introduction of a regular programme of testing in care homes is necessary and will play a significant role in helping to minimise the risk of Covid-19 in care homes and ensure the continued safety of residents and staff,” he added.

PA