Northern Ireland launches COVID App as Ghana’s go dead

Northern Ireland Health Minister, Robin Swann has announced a new mobile phone app to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 is ready for deployment this week.

The StopCOVID NI proximity app will anonymously alert users if they have been in close contact with another user who has tested positive for the virus.

Following a positive COVID-19 test result, a person will receive a code that is then used in the app to trigger an alert to notify any other user or contact.

Swann said the app will cost no more than £1million to build and operate.

It’s been designed by health tech company Nearform, similar to the contact tracing app launched earlier in the month in the Republic of Ireland, and is believed to be compatible.

The NI app will work alongside the Public Health Agency’s existing telephone based contact tracing operation. It uses bluetooth to exchange non-identifiable numbers with one another.

Health Minister Robin Swann stated: “It is vitally important that we minimise the spread of this virus.”

“That requires the identification wherever possible of close contacts of people testing positive. The StopCOVID NI app has a key role to play in this regard and I would encourage everyone to download and activate it once it becomes available.”

“Our Test, Trace and Protect is central to our efforts to keep people safe and sustain the relaxation of the lockdown.”

In the Republic of Ireland the code for its COVID-19 Tracker app has been donated as Open Source to Linux Foundation Public Health initiative. The move is hoped to help regions worldwide quickly build and deploy their own contact tracing apps.

The app has been downloaded by 1.3 million people, representing 30% of people in Ireland.

Ghana’s COVID-19 Tracker

Ghana dead COVID-19 Tracker

This comes at a time when Ghana’s supposed COVID-19 tracking App, which was to serve a similar purpose, is lost from the Google Play Store and has never showed up in the Apple Store in spite of promises by government that it was going to.

Currently, Ghana COVID-19 Tracker, which is allegedly downloadable from the website of the Communications Ministry, is fraught with challenges like inability to authenticate users claims in terms of email addresses, phone numbers and others.

The Minister once boasted that the App has recorded over 16,000 downloads in less than 24 hours, out of which over 100 persons showed interest in COVID-19 related issues.

However, due to the app’s inability to authenticate user information, experts say it could be that a few people just used the app repeatedly for several times and the app counted all of those entries as unique individuals.

Indeed, some posted on social media that they had made several fake email accounts and phone numbers into the app and all of those checked out and authentic, so the question was asked that if indeed one of those persons reported symptoms of COVID-19, how were they going to be reached, since the information the put into the app were fake?

Even the cost, the identity of the app developer and other stuff about the app have been questioned but the Ministry has failed to provide answers till date, as the app remain technically dead after a flowery launch with a live virtual concert.


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