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New contact tracing app launch due within days

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Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly hailed the app as being a 'powerful tool' to fight 'this awful disease'

Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly hailed the app as being a 'powerful tool' to fight 'this awful disease'

Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly hailed the app as being a 'powerful tool' to fight 'this awful disease'

A new Covid-19 contact tracing app will be launched in the coming days after the Cabinet gives the green light to the technology.

The Covid Tracker App will allow users to tell people they have been in contact with that they have contracted the virus.

It will also give the Government vital information on the spread of the virus.

The app has been developed by the HSE, and Health Minister Stephen Donnelly will bring a memo to Cabinet today on the new technology.

It cost €850,000 to develop and has been cleared for use on Apple and Android phones.

People who test positive for coronavirus will be able to anonymously alert other users who they have been in close contact with using the Bluetooth function on their phones.

It will tell people who have been close contacts but do not know each other that they could have been exposed to the virus. Tests have been carried out to ensure the app does not store private data or give additional personal information about users to the Government.

"As the country reopens, contact tracing and the early identification of symptoms will become increasingly important as more people are visiting family and friends, exercising, socialising, shopping, returning to work and using public transport," a source said.

"The app is an important part of the whole of Government response to Covid-19."

The app has been developed by Waterford company Nearform. Gardai were involved in testing the app as were researchers in Trinity College.

Tracing apps are currently in use in Denmark, Germany, Italy, Japan and Latvia.

However, the introduction of a similar tracing app in the UK has been delayed after the Westminster government decided to change the technology it was using.

Meanwhile, the National Public Health Emergency Team said yesterday evening that there had been no new deaths reported to the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC).

The total number of Covid-19 related deaths in Ireland now stands at 1,741.

As of midnight on Saturday, the HPSC had been notified of 18 new confirmed cases of Covid-19, the team added.

There are now a total of 25,527 confirmed cases of the virus in Ireland.

Reunited

The HSE said it is working to identify any contacts the patients may have had to provide them with information and advice to prevent further spread. The total number of tests completed now stands at 454,216, with a positive rate of just over six per cent.

There are currently 22 confirmed cases in hospitals.

On Saturday, the Herald reported on the case of a Dublin man who has finally returned home after more than 100 days in hospital with Covid-19, five weeks of which he spent in an induced coma.

Andrew Murray (61) was finally reunited with his wife Vera in his Coolock home on Friday, after first being taken to Beaumont Hospital on March 22 with a confirmed case of Covid-19.