Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly TD, has today welcomed EU-wide co-operation to link national COVID-19 apps. This initiative will help to break the chain of coronavirus infections across borders and save lives.
Ireland’s COVID Tracker app is one of the first wave of national apps linked through this European interoperability gateway. This will mean that people with the Irish app will receive an alert if they are a close contact with people who are diagnosed with COVID-19 and who have installed an approved EU member state app on their phone.
This EU-wide system was developed by the European Commission, following a request from EU member states. After a successful pilot phase, the system goes live today with the first national apps now linked through this service: Ireland’s COVID Tracker, Germany’s Corona-Warn-App and Italy’s Immuni app.
"I am so proud of what Ireland has achieved, being one of the first countries to interlink apps at an EU level with Germany and Italy.
"Ireland has consistently been a leader in the development of contact tracing apps and had one of the world’s most successful contact tracing app launches, with a huge uptake in the first 24 hours. Currently the app has more than 1.3 million active users. The Irish app already works on an all-island basis and today’s launch of the European Federated Gateway Service will facilitate apps working on a pan-European basis."
"Today’s announcement is another important tool in the effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19. While the general advice in Ireland is currently against non-essential travel overseas, this system will be of benefit for those undertaking essential travel to and from Ireland. I am again asking everyone across the country to download the app. The more people that download the app the more effective the app will be."
The app has had 2.1 million registrations since its launch, and has an active user base of 1.31 million. This represents 34 per cent of the adult population (aged 16+) in Ireland.
When a person receives an alert to inform them that they have had a close contact with an individual that has subsequently been diagnosed as COVID positive, the alert will not identify the patient in any way. It will alert the recipient that they have been a close contact of a COVID positive patient and that they should take the necessary precautions as advised by their national public health authority.
Ireland and Northern Ireland were the first in the world to achieve interoperability between apps from different jurisdictions in 2020.
To date, over 3,000 users of the COVID Tracker app in Ireland who have tested positive have uploaded their random IDs so that others can be alerted of close contacts.
More than 5,800 people have been sent close contact alerts as a result of carrying the app. Some of these may not otherwise have been identified.