HEALTH Minister Robin Swann is urging young people to download the StopCOVID NI app and to get their parents to do it too.
The Minister’s ask comes on the back of a record-breaking week for positive Covid-19 cases in Northern Ireland.
He said: “We surpassed a number of milestones last week that quite frankly we didn’t want to meet. In the last seven days almost 3,300 new Covid-19 cases were reported in Northern Ireland. This figure is staggering and we must take action today.
“I know parents are normally asking teenagers to come off their phones but today I am appealing to young people to go on to their phone and download the StopCOVID NI app now. And if your parents haven’t downloaded the app yet then persuade them to get it too.”
The StopCOVID NI app was initially launched at the end of July for adult users and last week a new version of the app was made available to include 11-17-year-olds.
The Health Minister said: “Most people who are infected don’t have symptoms and don’t know they are infected and can inadvertently pass the virus on to others. This is why it’s so important that as many people as possible are using the StopCOVID app and can therefore be alerted if they come into contact with someone who has tested positive. Once alerted the person can protect their family and friends by self-isolating.
“We’re seeing an increasing number of young people test positive for Covid-19 so it’s particularly important that younger people start using the app. This, along with all the other public health advice, will go some way in helping limit the spread of the virus that is present in our communities.”
The Department of Health has worked with the Commissioner for Children & Young People, the Information Commissioner’s Office and representatives from the Children’s Law Centre, in order to ensure appropriate and safe access to the app for younger people, within the legal constraints of GDPR and safeguarding.
Minister Swann said: “I would reassure young people and their parents that the app protects their privacy. The app uses anonymised smartphone data and the Government does not know who you are, where you are, or who you have been with.”
The Minister added: “As we approach what is likely to be a very difficult winter, we have to do everything we can to combat Covid-19. This app is part our fightback and I would urge everyone to download the app and keep it and their operating system up to date.”
The Department has designed the app to reflect the spirit of the ICO guidance ‘Age Appropriate Design: A code for online services’ to ensure alignment with best practice during the design process. The app will not drain phone batteries as it uses low energy Bluetooth.
The StopCOVID NI app is available to download from both Apple and Google app stores: