COVID-19 NI

StopCOVID NI – FAQs

The StopCOVID NI contact tracing app was launched on 31st July 2020 for NI citizens over the age of 18. A young person App will be available for 11 year olds and over from the end of September 2020.

Download the App

How does the StopCOVID NI contact tracing app work?

If you are in close contact with an app user who has added a positive COVID-19 test result to their app, this app will notify you. You won’t know who, when or where.

If you test positive for COVID-19 you can add that result to this app. This will notify other app users that you have been in close contact with. The app will never reveal your identity or location.

If you need more information on exposure notifications please visit https://covid-19.hscni.net/guidance/how-does-the-stopcovid-ni-contact-tracing-app-work/

How is my privacy protected?

If you test positive for COVID-19 you will get a code by SMS text message from ‘HSCresult‘. When you put that code into this app you will be asked to share the random IDs that your phone has been swapping with other app users over the last 14 days. If you agree, these ‘diagnosis keys’ will allow us to tell those people that they have been exposed to COVID-19.

So that you can use the app when travelling abroad we will securely share ‘diagnosis keys’ with other countries. This also means that apps used by visitors from those countries will work here.

The app will never track your identity or location, but it does collect some data. We will know the number of app users, the number of people in NI who enter ‘HSCresult’ codes, and the number of people in NI who are told that they have been exposed to COVID-19.

We need this data to prove that the app works, and to get it approved as a medical device.

To protect your privacy, and tell you as soon as possible if you’ve been exposed to COVID-19, we use automated processing. This means that no human is involved in the process, and some people are uncomfortable with that. To be able to use this app you will be asked to turn on ‘exposure notifications’. By doing this you are agreeing to the automated processing.

The app has been developed in line with expectations published by the UK ICO (Information Commissioners Office) who have published their recommendations here.

StopCOVID NI notifications explained

1. Exposure ‘log’ notifications

stopCOVID app exposure log notification

This is an image of an exposure ‘log’ notification. It is not an exposure notification.  On seeing this you should not self-isolate.

It means you have been close to another app user, but does not follow the setting of 2 metres or less, for 15 minutes or more. It is a problem with the IOS system that Apple will be removing in future versions.

Only if you have been close enough, for long enough, to an app user that tests positive, will you receive a clear exposure notification from the app.

2. Exposure notifications

stopCOVID app exposure notification

This is an image of an exposure notification. If you receive this notification it means you have been close to another app user who has tested positive.

3. Exposure alert in the app

stopCOVID app exposure homepage

This is an image from the StopCOVID NI app once you have received an exposure notification. If you tap on the ‘read more’ button you can see information on what to do next.

4. Exposure alert in the app – further information

stopCOVID app exposure further information

The image above shows the additional information you will see in the app if you receive an exposure notification. It explains how long you must self-isolate for, why you must do so, and links to read more about close contact and self-isolation.

Read more about this app and the technology used here https://covid-19.hscni.net/stop-covid-ni-mobile-app/

What technology is used?

The app uses technology developed by Google and Apple who are engaged in a joint effort to enable the use of Bluetooth technology to help governments and health agencies around the world reduce the spread of the virus, with user privacy and security central to the design.

Apple and Google have published details of this technology

This new technology is only available in the newest versions of the iOS and Android operating systems. For some users this will be a problem because the new operating systems are not supported on older iPhone models (iPhone 6 and earlier).

What to do if you do not agree with self-isolation advice on StopCOVID app

Under the provisions of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the Data Protection Act 2018, (for regulating the processing of personal data in the UK from 25 May 2018, replacing the former Data Protection Act 1998); Article 22 affords the following protection:

The data subject shall have the right not to be subject to a decision based solely on automated processing, including profiling, which produces legal effects concerning him or her or similarly significantly affects him or her.”

This may not apply if you have given explicit consent and if there is access to a human to speak to in order to express your point of view and to contest the decision.

In accordance with this, we have put the following measures in place, to ensure that your rights are not infringed. During the on-boarding process, in activating the App, we asked you to consent to the automated processing of your information that would be involved in you receiving an ‘Exposure Notification’ and being advised to self-isolate.  The processes involved in detecting significant contact episodes between App users, and using these to determine risk of infection should one or other test positive for COVID-19, are clearly explained in the ‘Terms & Conditions’ and ‘Privacy Notice’. The DoH’s prime concern in designing how the StopCOVID NI App operates was to preserve anonymity, and ensure that ‘Exposure Notifications’ could be facilitated, without the collection or transmission of any personally identifiable data. Automated decision-making within the App is essential, in order to avoid needing to share your identity, or the identity of other App users. 

The App ‘Exposure Notification’ process mirrors the manual contact tracing process, in terms of estimating the risk of transmission of COVID-19 as being related to a ‘high risk’ contact; within 2 metres in terms of distance, and for 15 minutes, or longer, in terms of duration. If you receive an ‘Exposure Notification’, it means that at some time in the previous 14 days, you had a ‘high risk’ contact with someone who has now tested positive for COVID-19. That means you are at high risk of having been infected with COVID-19 and there is a high risk of you passing the infection to others (even if you have no symptoms). Recent information published by the Office for National Statistics indicates that 79% of those who test positive for COVID-19 have no symptoms at the time of testing. In order to slow the spread of the virus, we need to use the manual contact tracing process and the App (working in parallel) to let those who have had ‘high risk’ contact, with someone who has tested positive, know that they are at risk of having been infected, and should self-isolate to avoid passing it on to others.

The App achieves this in an anonymised manner to protect your identity, and the identity of other App users. If you receive an ‘Exposure Notification’ via the App, we will have no way of knowing with whom, where or when the ‘high risk’ contact took place. If you wish to speak to someone in relation to an ‘Exposure Notification’ that you have received via the App, you can do this by calling ‘0300 200 7896’ and selecting the option to speak to someone about the notification at the following times: Monday-Friday (excluding bank holidays) between the hours of 8.30am – 5.30 pm. Someone will answer your call and explain the ‘Exposure Notification’. They will have no way of knowing with whom, where or when the ‘high risk’ contact took place, but they will try to explain the process to you and its purpose, to allow you to understand it, and make an informed decision as to whether to self-isolate to prevent you from spreading the infection to others.