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Many vulnerable with old phones cannot access Covid app, professor says

admin | September 25, 2020
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An infectious diseases expert has called on the Government to consider giving modern mobile phones to vulnerable people so that they can download the Covid Tracker app.

Professor Sam McConkey told Newstalk Breakfast it was clear that the current app was not adequate, as only 1.9 million people had downloaded it.

Prof McConkey said he hoped that the app could be updated so that more people could access it: “People do not have modern enough phones, give them phones that are good enough, expand it more.” It comes as CEO of the HSE Paul Reid said 2,000 close contacts had been identified through the app, with “significant numbers” of additional positive cases picked up that would not have been identified without it.

Speaking at briefing yesterday, Mr Reid said that 200,000 people check in with their symptoms on the app each day and that five additional languages are due to be added in an app update next week.

He said a number of other counties, including Scotland, Gibraltar and some states in the United States, were developing their own apps based off of Ireland’s while using the HSE’s open source code.

Herd immunity

Commenting on the extra restrictions in Donegal which has moved to Level Three as of midnight, Prof McConkey said he thought half the country was “moving in the wrong direction” and the country needed to change how it behaves to reverse that.Strict controls were the way to get cases down, he said, repeating his comment that Covid was like living with a tiger and it would “come back to bite us” as there was no “living with it.”

The term “lockdown” was too binary, he added. The situation in Dublin and Donegal was not the same as it had been back in March. Schools were open and there were escalating restrictions, but staying at home “was not a confusing piece of advice.”

Prof McConkey warned that there was no ‘herd immunity’ for young people and that in Ireland young people had many interactions with the elderly and the idea of keeping them separate was not possible. However, he said he was convinced that “we can definitely do this, we just need to do it together.”

READ MORE‘Similar announcements’ may follow Donegal as six other counties near Level Three

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