Covid app clocks up 1.3m users, alerting 463 close contacts last week

Nphet reports two deaths and 542 new cases in the State

The Covid-19 contact tracing app was launced in July. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Almost 200,000 users of the Health Service Executive’s Covid-19 tracker app have not supplied a contact phone number to facilitate tracking in event of being identified as a close contact.

However, the Health Service Executive said when someone receives a close contact alert they can enter the number at this stage and request a call back from contact tracing. They can also ring the HSE to arrange a call back.

The app has clocked up 1.32 million active users since it was launched last July. The HSE said that in the past week, 463 people have received a close contact alert and requested a call back from contract tracers. Anyone who looked for a call back received one, though the HSE said there may have been some people who didn’t pick up when rung a number of times.

Figures are not yet available for the proportion of people who have tested positive for the virus and who had the app installed.

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The average length of contact tracing calls is not recorded, but a HSE spokeswoman said the first call, informing a confirmed case of the test result, can take 45 minutes or more. The second, to gather details of the person’s close contacts, takes about 20-25 minutes. The third, to the close contacts, takes about 15-30 minutes for each call.

Since last month, text messages are sent to cases and contacts, and the HSE says further technology enhancements will be brought on stream to support contact tracing.

Reported cases

The deaths of another two patients with Covid-19 were reported by the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) at its briefing on Sunday. This brings to 1,947 the total number of virus-related deaths in the pandemic.

Nphet also reported 542 confirmed cases of the disease, bringing to 65,394 the total number of cases in the Republic.

Of the new cases, 181 are in Dublin, 59 in Donegal, 50 in Limerick, 36 in Cork, 25 in Kildare, with the remaining 191 cases spread across 20 other counties. The median age of cases is 35 and 64 per cent are under 45.

On Sunday afternoon, 283 patients with Covid-19 were in hospital, up four on the previous day. Of these, 39 were in ICU, down one from the previous day. There have been 13 additional hospitalisations in the past 24 hours.

The 14-day incidence of the virus nationally is 175.5 cases per 100,000 people. Donegal has the highest county incidence at 295.2 and Leitrim has the lowest at 34.3.

In Europe, only Norway, Finland, Estonia and Latvia currently have lower incidence figures than Ireland, according to the European Centre for Disease Control.

In Northern Ireland, there were seven further deaths related to Covid-19 recorded on Sunday, bringing the death toll there to 781, while an additional 420 cases were recorded, bringing the total number to 42,917.

Paul Cullen

Paul Cullen

Paul Cullen is a former heath editor of The Irish Times.