Thursday, 27 August 2020

Smart phone app not smart enough

“A report into the Government’s contact tracing app has echoed ACT’s concerns that it’s not smart enough,” says ACT Leader David Seymour.

“A report by the Contact Tracing Assurance Committee describes the uptake of the NZ COVID Tracer app as ‘problematic’ and says its potential has not been realised.

“The report was given to the Government six weeks ago, but only released publicly today. The Government was doing victory laps and the PM was doing a little dance while the inadequacies in the response were being pointed out. The Government should have spent this time making improvements to the system rather than declaring victory.

“The report claims contact tracing has been a ‘key workstream’ for the Ministry of Health and yet it only became mandatory for businesses to have QR codes last week. The Ministry can’t even say how many people have been traced with the app in the current Auckland cluster.

“An earlier report by infectious diseases physician turned Labour candidate Ayesha Verrall said the Ministry needed to be able to identify the proportion of close contacts found by app.

“When I asked Health Minister Chris Hipkins about this in Parliament on Tuesday he said this data wasn’t being recorded.

“The Contact Tracing Assurance Committee report confirms Verrall’s recommendation hasn’t been implemented. We have no way of knowing if the app is effective without this information.

“A Party Vote for ACT is a vote for a smart approach to Covid-19. Our plan is:

• New Zealand Epidemic Response Unit: Based on Taiwan’s Central Epidemic Command Centre
• Government as referee, not player: Allow alternative facilities for safe, electronically-monitored isolation, with strict punishment for rule-breakers
• Risk-weighted: Treat different countries and travellers with different levels of caution
• Technology-driven: Such as COVID card, ëlarm, rapid tests, temperature checks and thermal cameras
• Continuous improvement: Constantly compare ourselves with the best and seek to strengthen our resistance.

“If we want to enhance New Zealanders’ overall wellbeing, we must get a lot smarter. A Party Vote for ACT is a vote to tackle Covid-19 intelligently.”