Coronavirus (COVID-19): StopCOVID NI Proximity App

Most people with COVID-19 won’t know until they get symptoms. They could pass the infection without knowing they have it. Contact tracing is a method to help prevent the further spread of infections.  When someone has a positive test, it aims to let people they have been in close contact with know, so they can avoid passing it on.

About the StopCOVID NI Proximity App

Manual contact tracing involves calling people who have had a positive COVID-19 test, to try to find out who they might have passed it on to. They will be asked about people they recently have been close to for long enough to have passed on the infection.

This helps identify people you know, to advise them to self-isolate, breaking chains of transmission, and slowing the spread of the virus.   

The App has been designed to assist in stopping the spread of Covid-19 in Northern Ireland, by anonymously contacting people who have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.

It will help contact people you don’t know, that would not be warned by the manual contact tracing process, that they might be infected.

At present, the app does not link to the contact tracing service directly. Once someone has a positive test, manual contact tracing will be initiated. It will operate in parallel, encouraging ‘high risk’ contacts that might have been missed otherwise, to get tested.

The app is available to everyone aged 11 years and older in Northern Ireland.

StopCOVID NI 'easy explainer' guide

There is an  'easy explainer' guide, which outlines information about how the app works, how to download it and how it protects your data, that is available as PDF to download. This guide is for everyone aged 11 years and older:

Further resources including a poster, TV advertisements and digital resources are available on the Public Health Agency website. Download and share these resources to encourage others to get the app.

Who should download the App

The StopCOVID NI Contact Tracing App is free to download and use to anyone who is aged 11 years and older and a resident in Northern Ireland.

The Service is intended only for people resident in Northern Ireland and the Service may not be otherwise used.

Users downloading the App who are not resident in Northern Ireland will not be able to receive authorisation codes, in relation to a positive test for COVID-19, as the app is linked to the NI test registry.

On downloading and activating the App, users are asked to confirm that they are resident in Northern Ireland, and if not, are discouraged from using the App, explaining that it will not work for them

StopCOVID NI app  for 11-17 year olds

The StopCOVID NI app is also open to young people, aged 11 to 17, to download. StopCOVID app young people homepage

It’s the same app; it just looks a bit different.  

The app does not collect any of your personal information or track you location.

It works via Bluetooth, but it won’t use much battery or data allowance.

By using the app you will help reduce the spread of coronavirus, helping to protect your family, friends and community.

 

How to download the app

The App has been designed specifically for use on mobile phones and therefore cannot be downloaded for use on Ipads or other mobile devices

The app is available, free of charge, from both the Apple App store and the Google Play store:

How the App works

The process for how the app works is outlined below: 

  • phones of those using the App emit anonymised coded ‘keys’, ‘Identifier Beacons’, which change every 15 minutes
  • ‘keys’ are stored on the user’s phone for 14 days before being discarded
  • when close to each other, App users’ phones exchange these anonymous ‘keys’, and if they are in close proximity with another  user for a significant period of time, both will store the anonymous ‘key’ of the other phone for 14 days
  • If an App user tests positive for COVID-19 the App will notify any App users that have been closer than two metres for more than fifteen minutes (this is in line with current public health policy, and can be changed depending on advised best practice), in the previous 14 days
  • If you get a notification via the App telling you that you were in contact with someone who has tested positive you must self-isolate for 14 days

The process is also outlined in the video below:

The App uses capabilities of mobile operating systems. Apple and Google have developed a method that allows specific government-only COVID-19 Apps to make use of Bluetooth technology on phones that would otherwise not be available.

As the App will need to use the most current version of the phone’s operating system, users may be asked to upgrade the first time they use it. None of the information in this App is ever shared with Apple or Google. The App cannot be used on older phones, on which it is not possible to upgrade the operating system.

It is not available on phones which use a different operating system, other than the Android or iOS systems deployed by Google/Apple.

StopCOVID NI notifications explained

Exposure 'log' notification

stopCOVID app exposure log notification

This is an image of an exposure 'log' notification.

It is not an exposure notification.  On seeing this you should not self-isolate.

It means you have been close to another app user, but does not follow the setting of 2 metres or less, for 15 minutes or more. It is a problem with the IOS system that Apple will be removing in future versions.

Only if you have been close enough, for long enough, to an app user that tests positive, will you receive a clear exposure notification from the app.

Exposure notification

stopCOVID app exposure notification

This is an image of an exposure notification.

If you receive this notification it means you have been close to another app user who has tested positive.

StopCOVID NI exposure notification - homescreen

stopCOVID app exposure homepage

 

This is an image of the homescreen of the StopCOVID NI app once you have received an exposure notification: 

If you click on the 'read more' button you will be directed to additional information on what you should do next.

StopCOVID NI exposure notification - further information

stopCOVID app exposure further information

 

The image below shows further information within the app that you will receive if you receive an exposure notification:

This information outlines how long you must self-isolate for and why you must do so.

It also contains links to information on close contact and  how to self-isolate.

If you test positive for COVID-19

If you test positive for COVID-19 you will receive a unique test result code. The code is valid for 24 hours. You can add that result code to the app and alert others. This will never reveal who you are or where you are.

Codes should only  be entered into the phone of the person being tested. A parent or guardian should not be entering children’s codes into their own phones, as this will not send close contact alerts to the correct individuals.

This will result in the wrong people self- isolating for a period of time, while those who potentially have the virus  will continue to circulate within the community.

Turning the app off

It’s important the app is active as much as possible to help stop the spread of coronavirus. If you need to disable it for any reason, you can do this by turning off your phone’s Bluetooth feature.

If you work somewhere that uses social distancing and added safety measures (for example, perspex screens and PPE), you can disable the app while working.

The app doesn’t know you have extra protection from close contact in this scenario, so disabling it will avoid ‘false’ contact notifications.

What data the App uses

Metric data does not identify you and is used to create aggregate views of how the App is being used and the impact it is having on the virus. Here is a list of the App metrics which, if you consent, are collected from your App.

  1. The number of App users
  2. Ratio of exposure notifications to positive cases, measured at a regional level (not related to any individual user). The DoH will not know who, where or when, simply total numbers of ‘authorisation codes’ and ‘exposure notifications’ in any given time period.

No personally identifiable information is entered on the App. The ‘App settings’ gives you the ability to remove the App at any time, and any information stored on the phone while using the App.

If you are notified that you have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive, you will be advised to self-isolate for 14 days, and get a test is you start to have the symptoms of COVID-19 infection.

If you have symptoms you will directed to check your symptoms on the COVIDCare NI website (where you can download the ‘COVIDCare NI’ symptom checker App if you do not already have it) and book a test.

Go ON NI Digital Help - help with accessing online resources

If you have a tablet, laptop or phone and need help to address a specific problem, a digital volunteer from Business in the Community can help.

Text the word DIGITALHELP (one word) to 67300 with a brief description of what you require help with and a volunteer will phone you within 48 hours with free, helpful advice.

Coronavirus testing and contact tracing

Further information on coronavirus testing is available on the following page:

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