The new Covid-19 Tracker app, as developed by the Department of Health in conjunction with the HSE, fails people who live in border areas and regularly travel across the border for work or personal reasons, according to Sinn Féin councillor Edel Corrigan.
The Dundalk-Carlingford representative says that the failure to produce an application that provides tracking and tracing systems across all 32 counties means that those people who live in border regions such as north Louth cannot get the full benefits the app was designed to provide.
In a statement, she has called on the HSE and Department of Health to modify the app to ensure that people in border communities can be afforded the same amount of reassurance as users in other areas.
Having downloaded the app upon it going live on iOS and Android devices this morning, Cllr Corrigan said she was disappointed the technology was not used to cover the whole island of Ireland. “I noticed the statistical information provided appeared to only cover 26 of our 32 counties. The app says it is ‘being made available by the Irish Health Service Executive in conjunction with the Irish Department of Health for people across the island of Ireland’.”
“You can only register as living in your county if you live in one of the nominated 26 counties and you appear to be excluded if you live in any of the remaining 6 counties of Ireland,” she continued.
“My understanding is that they use Bluetooth technology which could in fact mean that the whole 32 counties could well be covered but what is the point if no-one in the six counties registers and they are certainly not being encouraged to do so?”
The councillor says the non-inclusion of the six counties north of the border “does not bode well for anyone who lives in a border county or who travels across the border as many people do on a daily basis in this area. I am quite concerned at the obvious flaw in the app.”
The HSE have said that while the app is an all-island application, it is not currently active in Northern Ireland – meaning it is not yet available for people north of the border to access. HSE CEO Paul Reid told reporters today that “authorities in the North are working through deployment of the app at this point.”
Don’t miss out. Subscribe to the Wee County Weekly today.
Speaking today, Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said the tracker app is “effectively all-island”, adding that the app does not differentiate where it is on the island of Ireland and it will work everywhere, regardless of internet access or coverage.
“Covid-19 must be tackled with an all-island approach. A virus does not recognise borders, it won’t suddenly stop at Dundalk and I feel the people of Louth are once again being punished and let down simply because of geography.”
“If we are serious about tackling this virus, then we need to get serious about the tools we use and ensure they are fit for purpose. My fear is that if people, especially in border counties, have this app it may lull them into a false sense of security as the data will be incomplete at best.”