StopCOVID NI proximity App: additional information

The StopCOVID NI 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. This page contains information on common queries about the app.

General information

Checking the app is working

To check the app is working correctly you should:

  • check the app states Active on the first screen
  • check the phones exposure notifications are turned on in the settings
  • check battery saving is not on - this can reduce notifications from all apps
  • check the phones Bluetooth is turned on in the settings
  • check the phones location is enabled in the settings

Checking the exposure notifications are working

To check the exposure notifications are working go to your phone's settings to make sure:

  • Bluetooth has been enabled
  • location setting has been enabled
  • notifications are turned on
  • battery saving is not on - this can reduce notifications from all apps

Issues with Bluetooth connection

In some instances, after updating the app it fails to recognise the Bluetooth connection even though Bluetooth has been turned on.

This is a fault with the android, but could also apply to the iPhone. To correct this fault, Bluetooth and location settings must be switched on at the same time.

How long alerts will stay on your phone for

The notification of Close Contact Alert will disappear in due course, after instructions are followed on the app.

Close contacts and contact tracing

Confirming the time and identity of your close contact

The app is not able to tell you what time of day you had a close contact because it does not store information.

It also cannot tell you who the person you were in close contact with was as the information shared via Bluetooth is encrypted, so no personal information can be stored or shared.

Even if you think you know you the person that caused your Close Contact Alert you need to self-isolate for 14 days as there may be more than one source of close contact.

Getting a Close Contact Alert, without being near anyone

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 15 minutes within the previous 14 days (in line with current public health policy). 

As the information is anonymous administrative team members are unable to tell you who or when the person is.

You may have met this person within 14 days while you:

  • were on public transport
  • were queuing
  • carrying out daily activities

It only takes less than six feet (two metres) and more than 15 minutes to pass on COVID-19. 

COVID-19 can be transmitted, but be inactive for a period of time within a person for up to 14 days which is the recommended isolation period. 

How long to self-isolate for if you receive a Close Contact Alert

The incubation period for COVID-19, which is the time between exposure to the virus (becoming infected) and symptom onset, is on average five to six days.

It can be up to 14 days which is why the isolation period is 14 days and this is why you should not book at test unless you have symptoms.

If someone from your household gets a Close Contact alert

The person who gets a Close Contact Alert must self-isolate for 14 days.

The rest of the household do not have to self-isolate unless they develop symptoms, and should only get tested then and not before.  Everyone should follow advice of hygiene guidelines. 

Check if everyone in the household has the app and, if not, advise them to install on their phones were possible.

I have had a Close Contact Alert, why has contact tracing not been in touch

Due to the significant increase in the number of positive test cases in recent days the contact tracing team are not able to make direct contact with individuals as quickly as they would like.

In order to help reduce the spread of the virus please continue to self -isolate and notify anyone that you know you have been in contact with in the last 14 days. The contact tracing team will be in touch in due course.

Receiving multiple Close Contact Alerts

If you are self-isolating since you received the first alert, you do not need to extend your isolation period beyond the 14 days from the date of the first alert.

If you receive a further alert after you have come out of isolation you must start the 14 day self-isolation period over again.

You should get tested only if you develop symptoms during this 14 day isolation period.

Can the message be trusted

The message you received has been sent from HSCNI with the sole purpose to invite you to provide the details of your close contacts, your workplaces and other places you might have been while infectious with COVID-19. 

The contact tracing team can then reach out to those contacts and warn them to take extra precautions.

Did I sign up for this?

You do not sign up to recieve a text. Everyone who has tested positive for COVID-19 will receive a message inviting them to use the digital service. 

If you choose not to - or cannot - use the digital service, the contact tracing service will also try to call you to make sure they have all the details needed to protect others.

Testing positive and self-isolation

Getting a text message when you test positive for COVID-19

If you test positive for COVID-19 you will get two text messages. These are to help with contact tracing in Northern Ireland.

The first message is to let the StopCovid NI (proximity app) know you have tested positive and to share that information anonymously with people you come into contact with who also have the app installed.

The second message is to invite you to share your contacts on the new digital service to support the manual call handling process and allow you to enter your details quickly, efficiently and digitally.

You can find details on this service, called ‘Help us trace your contacts’ at following link:

Explaining the text alert to self-isolate

If you get a text message about COVID-19 it has been sent from HSCNI to advise you that you have been in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.

This is not a spam message, it is only generated when it is needed to warn people that they have been in contact with someone with COVID-19.

You can tell it is from us as all of our messages will be from ‘HSCtracing’.

You will receive this when someone with COVID-19 has given us your details, only as a person who has had close contact with them and who might be at risk.  You could have been in contact with someone up to 14 days ago.

StopCOVID NI cannot share any details of those who provided your number - but the only reason your number will be used is to warn you that you have been in contact with someone who has since tested positive for the disease.

Your details will only be used for the purpose of warning you.

Getting a code to enter your details in to the app

Everyone who has tested positive for COVID-19 will get a six-digit code number that they will enter in to the app.

You will find the six-digit code in the bottom part of the text message. You must wait until you have received the code before you attempt to access the service.

Information for health professionals

Advice for health professionals wearing full Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

If you are a health professional who is wearing PPE because you are coming into contact with patients you can use the PAUSE button on the app or turn off the app while doing so.

You should turn the app back on at the end of their shift.  

If you receive a Close Contact Alert you must self-isolate for 14 days as there is no way to be certain the alert was triggered by a specific event at a specific date, time and location, even if you were wearing PPE.

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