People who have downloaded the ‘StopCOVID NI’ app will now be able to continue using it if they travel to Scotland and Jersey.
The Northern Irish app has become ‘interoperable’ with the Scottish and Jersey apps, which means you can use the ‘StopCOVID NI’ app if travelling there, and it will interact with the apps that people living there are using. This technology has already been working here since July, when we linked with the app being used in the Republic of Ireland. People using the ‘StopCOVID NI’ can use it when travelling in Ireland, and people from Ireland can use their app travelling here. This simply extends that cover to travel in Scotland and Jersey.
Those who have downloaded ‘StopCOVID NI’ do not need to do anything for this to work, they simply need to keep the app active while in Ireland, Scotland and Jersey. Their phone will be able to connect to the relevant apps in those places and continue to alert users if they have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19). Likewise, if users of ‘StopCOVID NI’ test positive in Northern Ireland, any users of ‘COVID Tracker’, ‘Protect Scotland’ or ‘Jersey COVID Alert’ who have been in close proximity will receive a notification.
Work is also underway to make the ‘StopCOVID NI’ app interoperable with other contact tracing apps, including the NHS COVID-19 app used in England and Wales.
Health Minister Robin Swann said: “The ‘StopCOVID NI’ is a vital tool in helping break chains of transmission of COVID-19 infection, and I welcome that citizens of Northern Ireland (who are already able to use the app in Ireland), will now be able to use the app travelling to Scotland and Jersey. This is an important step in helping to reduce the spread of the virus.
“While people are being advised to travel less at the moment, this compatibility will allow those having to travel for essential reasons to continue to be alerted via the ‘StopCOVID NI’ app while in Scotland or Jersey.
“Citizens of linked countries can also use their app when travelling here. There will be no need to download the Scottish or Jersey app, instead the ‘StopCOVID NI’ app will be able to interact with the apps launched by each country.
“Since the launch of the ‘StopCOVID NI’ app in July almost 490,000 people have downloaded it and over 20,000 people have been contacted via the app to let them know they have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. This is allowing people to self-isolate quickly if they have been exposed to the virus, reducing the risk of them infecting others.”
Notes to editors:
- The Department of Health has signed an agreement relating to the interoperability of COVID-19 Proximity Applications within the UK, Crown Dependencies and Gibraltar. This agreement means that residents in Northern Ireland using the ‘StopCOVID NI’ app, who can already use the app when in Ireland, will eventually be able to use it travelling in all the other countries who are party to the agreement. This means that there is no need to install multiple COVID-19 Proximity Applications mobile devices when traveling in these areas. Interoperability is achieved by the ‘backends’ of each app securely making available the randomly generated ID keys of app users testing positive, allowing the phones of other app users to see if they have been close to each other, for long enough, to be at risk of infection. The randomly generated ID keys of someone who tests positive for COVID-19 are made visible to be processed on other app users’ phones. This happens when an app user enters a positive Covid-19 test result, allowing users to receive advice to self-isolate if they are at risk of having been infected. The linkage between apps occurs on a Federated Server. The ‘StopCOVID NI’ app has been linked to one hosted in Ireland since July, and will now be linked to one hosted in Scotland. This Federated Server then shares the randomly generated ID keys of an app user who has tested positive with the ‘backend servers’ of COVID-19 Proximity Applications hosted by the other parties. This allows their phones to see if there has been a close contact risking spread of infection, and for advice to self-isolate to be triggered if there has. No personal data is shared in this process.
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