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Dublin: 22 °C Tuesday 4 August, 2020
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Cross-border approach to Covid-19 apps hailed as 'world first' by health minister

The Irish and Northern Irish contact-tracing apps can work together.

Image: Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie

IRELAND’S COVID-19 CONTACT tracing app will be able to work together with the newly launched Northern Ireland app – something health minister Stephen Donnelly has hailed as a ‘world first’. 

The Northern Irish app, which also uses Bluetooth technology, launched yesterday

The launch means that everyone living on the island has access to a contact tracing app, with the two apps able to work together. 

Donnelly said that this was the first time in the world this kind of linked-up contact tracing app had been achieved. 

“The apps that Ireland and Northern Ireland have developed are another important tool in that effort, which will make sure that no matter where you are on the island, you can be sure that your app will work and you can be notified of any close contacts if you need to be,” Donnelly said. 

An all-island approach to contact tracing has been a long-held aim of the Irish government and even when a Covid-19 app was first mooted several months ago, officials said that co-operation on both sides of the border would be crucial.

The launch of the Northern Irish app came on the same day that Ireland reported 85 new cases of the virus – a significant spike that the Acting Chief Medical Officer Dr Ronan Glynn said was either a “blip” or the sign of something more significant. 

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“As we head into a Bank Holiday weekend and enjoy some time off, I want to ask people once again to keep your gatherings small, know who you are in contact with, and download the app from the Apple or Play stores, to stay safe and to protect each other,” Donnelly said. 

So far, almost 1.45 million people in Ireland have downloaded it since it went live in recent weeks.

Today, leaders from both sides of the border met in Dublin Castle for the first meeting of the North-South Ministerial Council since 2016. 

Taoiseach Micheál Martin, appearing alongside First Minister Arlene Foster and Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill, stressed the importance of working together on contentious issues like travel. 

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