Over 80% would install Covid-19 tracing app to ease restrictions

Nationwide survey finds 60% of people are feeling more anxious since the pandemic

More than eight out of 10 people would consider installing a contact-tracing app if it contributed to an easing of restrictions imposed to slow the spread of coronavirus, according to a new survey.

The findings are from the third phase of the Corona Citizens' Science study, a population-wide survey conducted by research teams at NUI Galway, Dublin City University and the Insight SFI Centre for Data Analytics (NUI Galway).

The study is examining the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and the associated restrictive measures, such as lockdown and social distancing, on public life.

More than 8,700 people took part in the survey, which was conducted on May 6th over a period of 24 hours.


Some 84 per cent of respondents said they would consider installing a contact-tracing app.

The Health Service Executive is developing such an app to help curb the spread of Covid-19.

Bluetooth technology would allow phones with the app installed to make an anonymous “handshake”, which would be used to measure how close they are and for how long.

This information would then aid contact tracers to quickly trace people a confirmed case of Covid-19 has met.

Minister for Health Simon Harris has said a quarter of the population would need to download the app in order for the app to be effective.

Positively disposed

Joint research lead on the survey Prof Anthony Staines said: “The response from those surveyed appears to be quite positively disposed towards installing a contact tracing app, on the premise that it would lead to a lifting of restrictions.

“We understand that plans are in place to roll out a contact-tracing app, with an opt-in clause, and it will be interesting to ascertain the depth of the digital divide nationwide with it.”

More than 60 per cent of respondents reported that they were feeling more anxious since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, with the vast majority (78 per cent) worried about catching the virus or a family member catching the virus.

Another 37 per cent also indicated worry about other health problems; 33 per cent about the relaxation of restrictions; 26 per cent about their finances or their business; and 24 per cent about working from home or their children’s schooling.

The survey also found women and younger people were feeling more anxious and ill-at-ease compared with older respondents.

Researchers attributed this to a greater change in circumstances for younger as opposed to older respondents.

Three out of 10 people reported postponing medical treatments, a figure consistent with similar survey findings.

Household tension

Another 10 per cent of respondents reported increased tension in their household since the start of the pandemic.

Walking remained the most popular leisure activity (93 per cent). Indoor exercise was done by about 53 per cent of respondents; 29 per cent played board games; while 64 per cent took part in gardening; and 38 per cent did DIY.

Among the respondents there were more than 1,500 parents with children in primary school.

Most children (29 per cent) reported daily contact with their school teacher. A fifth said they had contact two to three times a week, while less than half said it was once or less often each week. For 3 per cent of children there was no contact with their primary school teacher.

Colin Gleeson

Colin Gleeson

Colin Gleeson is an Irish Times reporter