GOVERNMENT TO LAUNCH CONTACT TRACING APP

To help Kiwis keep track of their movements during Alert Levels, the government has announced it will release an app described as a digital diary to aid manual contact tracing efforts.

Under Alert Level 2 businesses are allowed to operate provided they comply with public health guidance surrounding physical distancing and contact tracing.

The flood of digital contact tracing registers that have been made available and promoted in response to this have raised some concerns about a fragmented system that could undermine trust and transparency.

The Ministry of Health has been working on an app to aid manual contact tracing, an essential tool in its fight to track down, isolate and eventually eliminate the COVID-19 in New Zealand.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern explained that the new digital diary app would provide national consistency to help Kiwis record where they have been and when. The government iterated that the app was intended to support manual contact tracing efforts, not replace them.

“While there are other similar apps in this space we wanted to give greater certainty of the use of the data collected,” said Ardern, who noted that the data would be stored in users’ devices, rather than held by a business.

“That’s just really responding to some of the concerns I’ve heard and seen, some people don’t want to fill in a paper-based form that will sit in a public place and others have concerns about using apps provided by businesses,” Ardern continued.

“This is an option that means someone can hold their own data for themselves and feel assured about that. It’s in case in the future you find yourself with COVID-19 you’ve got an easy reference to tell where you’ve been.”

The government said that this app was an interim solution and The Ministry of Health was still working on another app similar to those used overseas.

Singapore asked all its citizens to download an app called TraceTogether, which used bluetooth signals between phones to log contacts who come within two metres. The Australian Government recently launched a similar app, called Covidsafe.