100,000 signups to Covid tracker app in 12 hours

The HSE’s new app for tracking Coronavirus infections, and the contacts of those infected, was launched last night. Less than 12 hours later, it’s proving very popular:

It’s going to use a huge amount of data. What will that data be used for? Here’s the national broadcaster with some answers:

Acting Chief Medical Officer Dr Ronan Glynn said the situation is currently “looking good” but he also emphasised that all elements of the pandemic are being kept under constant review.

One of the ways by which the virus is tracked is by tracing close contacts of people who themselves test positive.

The Covid-19 tracker app is designed to help with both contact tracing and real-time symptom tracking.

Dr Glynn also urged anyone who has been identified as a close contact to “take up the offer of a test without delay”.

He said between mid-May to the end of June, 35% of those identified as a close contact of a confirmed case “did not take up the offer of a test” and warned “every case has the potential to turn into a cluster, which in turn has the potential to spread through a community”.

What’s the explanation for the figure in bold? Surely if you were told you’d been in close contact with somebody who had the virus, you’d be high-tailing it down to the nearest testing centre to be tested yourself? But three in ten people who got that news, apparently, decided not to bother. Why?

Some of it, presumably, is people who were told that they’d been in contact with somebody some time previously. Maybe if you were told that a person you met three weeks ago had tested positive, you’d decide that a lack of symptoms in yourself was test enough. But that’s a bad decision, because some people are asymptomatic. For all you know, you could be at risk of killing your granny without ever knowing you had Covid.

Even so, it’s hard to think that that explanation accounts for all 35%. What about the conspiracists? They’re not 35%, are they?


It strikes me that if the tracking and testing app was some kind of covert attempt to track and trace the population for nefarious reasons, it would have been released months ago. If, as the conspiratorially minded suggest, Coronavirus is all about some NWO scheme to control the population and track our movements, wouldn’t they have had the app ready at the peak of the pandemic, when it would have gotten five times as many downloads as (its already impressive) 100k today? One thing about Coronavirus conspiracies: If they’re right, then the New World Order and the Freemasons, or whoever, are very incompetent.

But back to the one in three of us avoiding being tested when we’ve been in contact with a confirmed case: Is it just administrative incompetence? We know that there was an absolute mess with testing in the early stages of the outbreak, and it’s very possible that a lot of those offered tests have already been tested. Someone I know was offered a test three separate times – once by their GP, once by the HSE, and once on the recommendation of their workplace. Naturally, they were tested once and still had to wait five weeks on results.

Maybe the 35% are (or were) the sensible ones.

Anyway, I downloaded the app this morning. It might come in useful during the increasingly inevitable second wave.

Update: 250k now. Gangbusters. The rare HSE good news story.



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