The Ministry of Health has formally released the NZ COVID Tracer app to support contact tracing in New Zealand.
Kiwis who download the app 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.
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," says Director General of Health, Dr Ashley Bloomfield.
"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."
Privacy and data security are incredibly important to New Zealanders. That’s why NZ COVID Tracer puts you in control of your information, says Ashley.
“Any information you decide to record with the app will be stored securely on your 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.
“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 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.
“You will also be able to self-report any COVID-19 symptoms so you can be tested for the virus if appropriate and will be able to complete a daily health check-in through the app if you’re in isolation.
“I encourage all New Zealanders to download the NZ COVID Tracer app to help protect yourself, your friends, whânau and community by making it easier to trace the people you’ve come into close contact with."
The National Close Contact Service, which the MOH established at the beginning of the outbreak, will continue to lead contact tracing in New Zealand together with our Public Health Units.
Businesses and other organisations can generate QR Code posters through the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s Business Connect service. For more information visit www.business.govt.nz/covid-19/contact-tracing.
How NZ COVID Tracer works
The first step is to register your email address with NZ COVID Tracer and create a password.
You can then use the app to:
• register your name, address and other details (all information is optional)
• invite friends and whanau to download the app
• register your interest in features that will be added in future updates
• create a digital diary by scanning QR codes at the locations you visit.
If you are identified (through existing contact tracing procedures) as a close contact of someone who has COVID-19, the National Close Contact Service (NCCS) will ask you to open NZ COVID Tracer and read out a list of the locations you have signed into. This will help them identify whether any of your friends, whanau or community members may also have been exposed to COVID-19.
Any business or public facing organisation with a New Zealand Business Number can generate a QR code poster for each of their premises through MBIE’s Business Connect online service.
All a business needs to register for Business Connect is:
• a RealMe login
• a New Zealand Business Number and access to its NZBN profile
• to confirm it has authority over its business.
NZ COVID Tracer will be updated in early June 2020. This will allow you to:
• electronically transmit your digital diary to the NCCS
• receive a notification* if you have been at the same location at the same time as someone who has COVID-19
• carry out a daily health check-in if you are in isolation or quarantine.
*This will not in any way affect privacy. A dataset of times and locations will be transmitted to all devices that have NZ COVID Tracer installed. NZ COVID Tracer will then compare this dataset with the locations stored in your digital diary and let you know if there is a match.
Availability of QR code posters
It will take at least a few days for a significant number of businesses to generate QR codes and display QR code posters.
In the interim, New Zealanders can use the app to register their contact information. This is important because it makes sure contact tracers can get in touch if they need to.
The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) has already started contacting over 800,000 business stakeholders with information on NZ COVID Tracer and what they need to do to generate their QR code posters.
Contact tracing requirements for business
At this time, NZ COVID Tracer does not remove the requirement under the Alert Level 2 Order for businesses to keep appropriate contact tracing records.
However, the more QR code posters we have in place the more Kiwis will be able to keep track of where they’ve been with the app. This will speed up contact tracing and help stop any further spread of COVID-19, which is good for all New Zealand businesses.