Northern Ireland news

Republic's Health Minister sets out ‘all-island approach' to contact tracing app

  Minister for Health Simon Harris at the Government Buildings Press Centre in Dublin, addressing the media on the state of the coronavirus lockdown in Ireland.
Aine McMahon PA

A contact tracing app may be made available to people living in Northern Ireland as part of an all-island approach to tackling Covid-19, the Republic of Ireland’s Health Minister has said.

Simon Harris was asked in the Dail on Thursday if the contact tracing app would be made available on Apple iTunes so people in the region could use it.

The HSE is aiming to release its contact tracing app, to help identify close contacts of a confirmed case of Covid-19, by the end of this month.

The app will only be available on smartphones and will use Bluetooth technology.

He said: “This app will be very much complementary to what the chief medical officer has described as shoe leather, ie the ongoing work in relation to contact tracing.

“Some countries have used this app to replace the more traditional route of contact tracing.

“It is my intention that it would of course be available to residents in Northern Ireland through the UK Apple Store.

“I will come back about the ways in which we can make that happen and we are having conversations with colleagues in relation to an all-island approach, of which this is one element.”

He said he had had a number of engagements with the Northern Ireland Health Minister Robin Swann and the First and Deputy First Minister about the approach being taken in recent weeks.

“We want an all-island approach and we are working very hard to do that,” he said.

The Republic of Ireland’s coronavirus death toll has risen to 1,403 after a further 29 deaths were announced by the National Public Health Emergency Team.

There have been 137 new confirmed cases of the virus, taking the total in Ireland since the outbreak began to 22,385.

In Northern Ireland, coronavirus has claimed the lives of four more people.

Two of the deaths occured in the 24 hours up to 9.30am today and the remainder were recorded in recent days.

The Department of Health said the total number of lives lost to Covid-19 now stands at 422.

Enjoy reading the Irish News?

Subscribe now to get full access

Northern Ireland news