Northern Ireland StopCOVID app to cover young people

Northern Ireland’s Department of Health has announced its StopCOVID NI app is to cover children and young people, starting from next month.

The app was launched towards the end of July, and has to date been downloaded more than 300,000 times. Out of 281 ratings on the Apple App Store the app has received an average rating of 3.8/5, and on the Google App Store it received 3.3/5 from 282 reviews.

Initially the app was limited to people aged of 18, but that will now change next month.

To date, 160 people who have had a positive test for COVID have uploaded data from their apps and then 237 others have been alerted through an ‘exposure notification’ in the app, advising them to self-isolate.

Health Minister Robin Swann said:  “I am pleased to confirm that we are on course to extend the StopCOVID NI app to children and young people from September.”

“My Department has worked with the Children’s Commissioner and the Information Commissioner’s Office to identify a way that younger people can get consent to use it without impacting anonymity.”

“This is very good news – especially with school, colleges and universities re-starting.”

“Passing the 300,000 mark is a great achievement in a short space of time but we have to maintain the momentum.”

“The more people get on board, the more effective the app will be in breaking chains of transmission of the virus.”

“It only takes a few minutes to download it and this simple step could prevent you from spreading Covid-19 to your family and friends, and reduce the chances of another lockdown.”

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

Dan West, Department of Health Chief Digital Information Officer, said: “We are continuing to work to improve the app, and have been receiving helpful feedback from users. We released an updated version of the app last week, reflecting the feedback, and correcting all minor issues reported by users. We will continue to respond to the public’s feedback, and very much welcome it.”