How does contact tracing work?

Contact tracing is an established method to help prevent the further spread of infections such as COVID-19, and we are now using this approach to help prevent the spread of the virus.

In Northern Ireland you can protect yourself by using the StopCOVID NI app ( that alerts you if you have been in close contact with someone who have tested positive to COVID-19.

We also protect the wider community by asking those who have already tested positive for COVID-19 to tell us about their close contacts – so we can warn their close contacts as quickly as possible that they might have become infected and give them guidance.

We do this by this by reaching out to those who have tested positive, in the first instance via an SMS (text message) inviting them to use the HSCNI Help us trace your contacts service so they can enter their contacts online, or by calling them to ask about their contacts, for those who do not wish to use the web service or those who cannot use the service for other reasons

When you test positive for COVID-19, you will get two SMS (text) messages from us.

These messages are to help with contact tracing in Northern Ireland.

The first message is to let the StopCovid NI (proximity app) know you have tested positive and to share that information anonymously with people you come into contact with who also have the app installed.

The second message is to invite you to share your contacts on the new digital service we have launched to support the manual call handling process and allow you to enter your details quickly, efficiently and digitally.

You can find this service, called ‘Help us trace your contacts’ at: 

You cannot enter your details without a code.

We will send everyone who has tested positive for COVID-19 a code number. 

And the SMS will look like this:

Graphical user interface, text, application

Description automatically generated

You will find the six-digit code in the bottom part of the SMS message.

Please wait until you have received the code before you attempt to access the service.

Can I trust it?


This message has been sent from HSCNI with the sole purpose to invite you to provide the details of your close contacts, your workplaces and other places you might have been while infectious with COVID-19.

We can then reach out to those contacts and warn them to take extra precautions.

Did I sign up for this?


Everyone who has tested positive for COVID-19 will receive this message inviting them to use the digital service.

If you choose not to – or cannot – use the digital service, we will also try to call you to ensure we have all the details we need to protect others.

What do you mean by contacts?

We need you to:

  • tell us about the people you have been in close contact with.
  • tell us about places you have worked.
  • tell us about any other times where you might have come into contact with people.

Remember two things:

To protect your identity, we will not share your details with those whose details you will provide.

We will only use the information you have given for the purpose of contact tracing and learning about the disease. Nothing else.

What do I need to put in?

As much information as you can provide – anything is helpful.

We will need at least names and telephone numbers (if you have them) of those you have been in close contact with.

Updated: 2 weeks ago Posted: September 29, 2020 4:01 pm Share: