The Government has confirmed a community-wide trial of CovidCard technology as it explores options for COVID-19 contact tracing.
“Effective contact tracing is a vital part of the COVID-19 response,” Minister of Health Chris Hipkins said.
“While manual processes remain the critical component for contact tracing, we know digital solutions can help make contact tracing faster and more effective. This is important from a public health perspective and also in supporting our economic and social recovery,” Chris Hipkins said.
“It’s fair to say that no single technology to ‘solve’ contact tracing has been identified anywhere in the world. That’s why we need to explore all available technology options,” says Health Minister Chris Hipkins.
“We are continuing to improve the NZ COVID Tracer app, which includes looking at how technologies like Bluetooth can be utilised to further support contact tracing and have also been investigating the proposed CovidCard.”
Initial assessments by the University of Otago highlighted that the CovidCard could make a real contribution to New Zealand’s contact tracing processes.
“The Government funded a trial run by the University of Otago in conjunction with the Nelson Marlborough DHB during lockdown. The trial found the CovidCard works under controlled conditions, so we believe there is merit in exploring it further,” Government Digital Services Minister Kris Faafoi said.
“After consultation with community leaders and iwi, we have selected the Rotorua region for a further trial involving around 250-300 people.
“This research will allow us to understand how the cards would work in a real-world scenario, whether they are compatible with our contact tracing systems, and whether the public would accept and use the cards if they were rolled out,” Kris Faafoi said.
Any decision on whether to deploy the CovidCard will be made later this year. At this stage it is not anticipated that the CovidCard would be mandatory.
“Key considerations will include whether the CovidCard meets high security and privacy standards and can be used by a wide range of New Zealanders.
“We’ll also be testing whether it effectively contributes to contact tracing and New Zealand’s efforts to eliminate COVID-19,” Minister Hipkins said