New Zealanders encouraged to download new COVID-19 contact tracing app

By Jessica Tyson

New Zealanders are being encouraged to download a new app released today by the Ministry of Health today to support COVID-19 contact tracing.

People who down download the app, NZ COVID Tracer, will create a digital diary of the places they visit by scanning QR codes displayed at the entrances to business premises, other organisations and public buildings.

Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield says, “I encourage all New Zealanders to download the NZ COVID Tracer app to help protect yourself, your friends, whānau and community by making it easier to trace the people you’ve come into close contact with.”

People can also register their contact information through the app to make sure the National Close Contact Service can get in touch if they need to.

“One of our key public health responses to COVID-19 is to identify, trace and isolate cases and close contacts to prevent further spread. This app will help us do that. The more Kiwis that download and use it the better placed we are to act promptly to keep other New Zealanders safe.”

Security

Dr Bloomfield says the app will allow users to control their information, to ensure privacy and data security.

He says any information people decide to record with the app will be stored securely on their phone and deleted automatically after 31 days.

“It’s your choice whether you share any of this information with contact tracers, and any information you do share will be used only for public health purposes and never for enforcement.”

Updates to come

Dr Bloomfield says like all mobile apps, NZ COVID Tracer will be updated over time as new features are developed.

“In the next release, NZ COVID Tracer will be able to notify you if you have been at the same location at the same time as someone who has COVID-19 and will allow you to send your digital diary directly to the National Close Contact Service.”

Users will be able to self-report any COVID-19 symptoms so they can get tested for the virus if appropriate and complete a daily health check-in through the app if they’re in isolation.

Dr Bloomfield says the National Close Contact Service, which was established at the beginning of the outbreak, will continue to lead contact tracing in New Zealand together alongside Public Health Units.

The NZ COVID Tracer app is available from the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store. Further information about the app can be found at the Ministry of Health website.