15 Jul 2020

Hipkins urges use of contact tracer app - 'Step up your efforts'

2:29 pm on 15 July 2020

Health Minister Chris Hipkins has appealed to New Zealanders to use the contact tracer app, saying he believes there is a degree of complacency in this country, even as the risk grows every day.

Education Minister Chris Hipkins

Chris Hipkins says the Health Ministry is working hard to update its contact tracing app. Photo: RNZ / Dom Thomas

Speaking at today's press conference, where it was revealed there were two new cases in managed isolation facilities, Hipkins said contact tracing was a core public health response, and the Ministry was training its staff to do case investigation.

He said the contact tracer app was one part of a whole system of contact tracing that required everyone to take part, and about 596,000 New Zealanders have so far done this.

The information provided is only used by the Ministry and only for contact tracing, he said.

"Please step up your efforts, scan wherever you go and keep a record of your movements."

He believed there was a degree of complacency, but the risk was increasing each day. "Now's the time to be vigilant."

He said his team was working as fast as it could to get the app out when it did and was working to update it.

"We're not dilly dallying about this," said Hipkins about the speed at which the government is working on its contact tracing strategy.

Director general of health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said the app was an adjunct to the core contact tracing work being done.

"The app is important...this is going to be with us for a while, let's get used to using it," he said.

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Photo: RNZ

Victoria, which has recorded 238 cases of coronavirus in the last 24 hours, was a real wake up call, he said. There are now more than 2000 active cases in the state. The surge in cases has seen the Greater Melbourne area put into a stage 3 lockdown for at least another five weeks.

The Ministry of Health in this country is working on a strategy for encouraging the uptake of QR posters in businesses but Hipkins said he could not give any details on this.

Businesses should display the official Covid QR code as the data is stored in a way that is easy to use for contact tracing unlike other apps, Hipkins said.

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