Tuesday, 19 October 2021

Questions (879)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

879. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Health his views on whether the usefulness of the Covid tracker app is undermined at this stage given the very limited numbers routinely checking in their status or leaving their tracker on continuously to aid identification of close contacts; and if a case has been made to end the service or to encourage the public through a publicity drive to re-engage with the app given the dangers of the Indian strain of Covid-19. [51232/21]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

Over 3.5 million citizens have downloaded COVID-19 Tracker App to date and it has been a very successful national digital tool in the continued fight against COVID-19, supporting and speeding up the test and trace services response. The international evidence suggests that we need 25% for it to be effective and we have reached 34% of people over the age of 16 years. Public messaging campaigns around public health continue to promote the app as one of the public health measures to mitigate against the spread of Covid-19.

The app also has a separate function to store citizens EU Digital Covid Certificate if they wish to do so. This has led to a surge in the number of people downloading the app since Ireland started issuing certificates in July of this year. As vaccination rates increase, I am aware that some EU Member States are considering now retiring the Exposure Notification System within their contact tracing apps. Any decision to retire the Covid Tracker App, or features within it, such as exposure notifications, will be taken in line with national public health advice.