back to article New Zealand releases Bluetooth-free COVID-19 tracing app

The New Zealand government has released a new digital check-in tool to enable Kiwis to keep a digital log of their movements. The new app, called "NZ COVID Tracer", works by letting users scan QR codes at the businesses, public building and other organisations they visit. It then provides users with a "check-in" history, so …

  1. This post has been deleted by its author

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    That's the Thailand App

    You download it, enter detail, scan a QR code as you enter and exit each store, they promise to keep it for only a little time. It's a side issue, the most important thing is not packing people together and keeping them wearing face masks. Cleaning surfaces regularly, spraying shopping carts with disinfect spray. Wiping down handles.

    They also have a manual system, give your contact number and name, written down on entry, get given a numbered card, the card is handed back to the cashier when you pay for goods and leave and they update their paper list. (Hope they wipe with alcohol between each use!)

    It's a mitigation strategy. Its only for big malls, and small shops only have the QR code there no manual system. On Sunday it was bunching up people at the entrance. Given you have to inform people via news of ALL the places the person goes, including the ones without the system. You may aswell inform them via the news media of the malls aswell.

    Thailand had 2 cases yesterday, its trivial to inform people of those cases.

    This could be you, UK. Look, 2412, downward trend continues. QUARANTINE IS WORKING. MASKS ARE WORKING. Finally! Keep it up, keep it tight, and get that down to manageable double digits and you can open up Corona Virus free and join the rest of Europe and Asia. The harder you lock down, the fewer cross infections, the faster it ends.

    One last push, and its over.

    https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/country/uk/

    1. Headley_Grange Silver badge

      One Last Push and it's Over

      It doesn't end until we have herd immunity or a vaccine and it becomes another annual flu, albeit one with a higher mortality.

      Let's assume that herd immunity for this virus needs at least 60% of the population to have survived it and that all those who survive carry some immunity. Last week the Grauniad reported the rate of new infections as 148,000 infections in the prior two weeks - call it 10k per day. So, if we maintain that rate of infection it will take 66e6*.6/10e3=3960 days to infect 60% of the population. That's ten years assuming lockdown remains as it is now. OK - it's a back of the envelope calculation based on incomplete data, but it shows what we might be up against.

      Even if we accepted ten times the infection rate and the impact that it would have on the NHS it could still take a year to get to anything approaching herd immunity. So, we're probably in some sort of lockdown with social distancing for a while yet until we get a vaccine.

      What we need today is testing and tracking so that we can identify people who aren't at risk so they can go about their lives and, more importantly, we can quickly track and trace new outbreaks, lock them down specifically and - most importantly - protect the most vulnerable by knowing where the risk is. I see it as the difference between a cruise missile and carpet bombing. Reading the papers and watching the news, the most frustrating thing for me is that I still don't really understand why we still seem to have such limited testing capacity.

      Usual warnings - I Am Not an Epidemiologist, other opinions are availaible and mine might be a bit skewed from being on my own for too long and only having myself to argue with.

      1. EvilDrSmith Bronze badge

        Re: One Last Push and it's Over

        > only having myself to argue with.

        At least it guarantees the quality of the argument...Sometimes, talking to one's self is the only way to guarantee an intelligent conversation.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: One Last Push and it's Over

        The fewer people infected the easier it is to track and trace, obviously, so the logic is to push numbers infected down hard. 'Herd immunity' is a nice concept but it's not necessarily the end point we should be aspiring to. You could make an equally cogent argument for 'eliminate' and protect your borders (New Zealand). Eventually we might hope that effective palliative treatments are developed or a vaccine is developed, - so that we can 'allow' herd immunity to build up without risking the 600,000 deaths that would result (60% of 66 million, 1.5% of infected patients die).

        IANAE or, thank god a politician, but what I would do is actually go for a 10/14 day reallly really mean it lockdown. Close shops, schools, parks, no runs, no cycles, no Amazon deliveries. If you are out of your house you get tasered and then sprayed with indelible paint that marks you as a selfish idiot other people can avoid (without risking the police having to approach too close). If you have to work you camp in your workplace. Everyone stays indoors, watches trashy TV and works their way through a small proportion of all that pasta and tomato sauce they stockpiled. That should give us 2 weeks with a really really low R rate and when we come out of it we can operate an effective track and trace with more normality. Of course we should have actually done that months ago, but would have involved listening to the science meaning 'I heard what you said and I will take action', not 'I'm still listening, and will do so until you tell me what I want to hear'.

        1. Cynic_999 Silver badge

          Re: One Last Push and it's Over

          "

          You could make an equally cogent argument for 'eliminate' and protect your borders

          "

          I doubt that is possible. There is a very plausible theory that even in the absence of carriers, many viruses can propagate by being blown up to high altitudes where they are carried vast distances by the jet stream, eventually descending to start an epidemic in a community with no "patient zero" being required.

          But even if not, the idea that a first-world country could quarantine itself from all external human contact over the time period of many years is simply a pipe-dream.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        You don't have herd immunity for MERS or Ebola

        Do you have ebola antibodies? Did you get vaccinated for Ebola? No & No.

        What about MERS? Do you have MERS antibodies? Did you get a MERS vaccine injection? No & No.

        That "we need herd immunity" shit is just an excuse to keep it going unnecessarily. UK doesn't vaccinate against Ebola or MERS because they eliminated them in the UK.

        To get R<1, you can simply get enough people to wear masks, and disinfect surfaces. You don't need them to be immune to stop a transmission, you can just block the transmission.

        Thailand had 2 cases today. IT'S JUST A FUCKING MASK AND A BIT OF HAND SANITISER. Quit pretending you need to kill your mum and dad just to stop an infectious disease from spreading.

        1. Cynic_999 Silver badge

          Re: You don't have herd immunity for MERS or Ebola

          "

          Do you have ebola antibodies? Did you get vaccinated for Ebola? No & No.

          What about MERS? Do you have MERS antibodies? Did you get a MERS vaccine injection? No & No.

          "

          That's because neither of those is likely to be transmitted via casual contact - you need to be living in close proximity to an infected person for quite some time before the infection risk is significant. So the "R" factor is inherently low.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: You don't have herd immunity for MERS or Ebola

            Ebola 2.5

            SARS 2.4

            Typhoid 2.8

            Not true, you're not vaccinated against Ebola not because they are not infectious, but because they are not in the UK to be transmitted.

            https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1kHCEWY-d9HXlWrft9jjRQ2xf6WHQlmwyrXel6wjxkW8/edit#gid=0

            Your pathetic defeatist crap noted again Cynic_999

        2. Yes Me Silver badge

          Re: You don't have herd immunity for MERS or Ebola

          "To get R<1, you can simply get enough people to wear masks"

          There is no reliable evidence that this statement is true. NZ has no mask requirement and no more new cases. Social distancing plus test, trace, isolate. But you must test and trace every single case.

          1. Deltics

            Re: You don't have herd immunity for MERS or Ebola

            Please don't use NZ as an example. Our contact tracing was a shambles. People who KNEW they had been in contact with one of our biggest clusters went to the press to complain that 48 hours after the cluster was identified and 48 hours after the DG of Health publicly said that comprehensive contact tracing was being URGENTLY undertaken, they still had not been contacted.

            Likewise our testing rate was diabolical during the majority of the outbreak here. It was only once numbers had started to decline that testing ramped up to effective numbers.

            Testing and tracing was only effective at all because of the low number of cases, not the other way around.

            In fact, just about everything the government SAID they were doing was subsequently shown to be far removed from what was actually happening. Even the PM widely applauded 20% pay cut (leaving her only earning 20% more than Boris Johnson, PM of a country with 15x the population and commensurately larger economy and higher GDP, rather than the usual 50% more that she usually pockets)... that announcement was then followed by the government VETOing a change to the legislation required to make that pay cut possible, two weeks after making the promise to take the pay cut and having done nothing in those two weeks themselves.

            Our low numbers had far more to do with the geographic remoteness, sparse population and lack of high density population centres than any steps taken by the government.

            Indeed, the government had to be FORCED into every step they took, belatedly.

            The medical community had to petition the government to close schools with the government defending to the last minute keeping them open. One of our top 2 largest outbreak clusters was then a school.

            The opposition party had to petition the government to impose mandatory quarantine at the borders because of widely publicised breaches of the "honor system" of asking people pretty please to self isolate upon arrival and the acknowledgement by the Commissioner of Police that there was NO comprehensive follow up to ensure that self-isolation was being observed and in the few cases that had been spot-checked there were a large number of instances of the property given as the self isolation address being found to be completely empty.

            Our Health Minister breached the lockdown rules and was allowed to keep his job. You might think this was because he was crucial to the governments response, except that he never fronted any questions to the media and has no relevant medical or health profession experience or expertise. What he does have is a Prime Minister who - as revealed by an Official Information Act request - did not trust her own ministers to even answer questions from the media, issuing written instructions to ministers to "dismiss" questions and requiring that any statements or responses they did make be submitted for her personal approval in advance.

            The NZ government has done a masterful job of presenting itself as competent and effective through this. The reality however is completely different, despite the numbers.

            The outcome speaks for itself. That is, the outcome tells us only what the outcome was. It does not tell the story of the control freak running the country with an indecisive and incompetent government.

      4. Cynic_999 Silver badge

        Re: One Last Push and it's Over

        Or we carry on as we always did and accept that there is one more disease of the many that we might catch, but which for the vast majority would mean at most a week or two in bed, instead of expecting to be 100% safe from all the nasties. Let those who are extremely risk-averse cower inside their antiseptic homes, and allow the rest to enjoy life - complete with its risks.

        Last year there were 27,820 people killed or seriously injured in road traffic accidents in the UK, yet it did not result in hundreds of scare stories each day in the media or people being advised to stay away from vehicles and roads. Nor is there a daily update on road traffic fatalities. We just reduce the risk as far as is possible *without* interfering with either the economy or normal life.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: One Last Push and it's Over

          "Or we carry on as we always did and accept that there is one more disease of the many that we might catch, but which for the vast majority would mean at most a week or two in bed, instead of expecting to be 100% safe from all the nasties"

          1% - 2% = 630,000 deaths to 1.26 million deaths

          Your borders would be closed to the world, people don't know if they're among the people who will die. They would be afraid. Your economy would collapse trying to build all the hospital capacity to treat the sick even to prevent those deaths.

          You cannot ship goods abroad except by 30 days + sea to ensure the goods aren't infected.

          You cannot provide services abroad because your experts cannot travel.

          Nobody wants your farmed produce because it could be infectious.

          Nobody wants to send their experts to UK in case they catch the disease.

          Isolation. Economic collapse.

          Or you can wear the mask, spend two to three weeks in proper hard lockdown, disinfect handles, keep people spaced, and clear it like the rest of Europe and Asia is doing.

          It's a bit pathetic. You sound a bit pathetic to me. Pretending its sooooo difficult, something that other countries found soooo easy.

          Pathetic. Just do it and stop making excuses.

          1. Cynic_999 Silver badge

            Re: One Last Push and it's Over

            "

            1% - 2% = 630,000 deaths to 1.26 million deaths

            "

            Yup. Meanwhile WHO is predicting that the effect of the lockdown & subsequent economic collapse will result in the deaths of 1.5 million infants and children.

            So what's best - 1.26 million deaths, most being of elderly people in the final years of life, or 1.5 million deaths of children? I know, it's not a very good choice.

        2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: One Last Push and it's Over

          "Last year there were 27,820 people killed or seriously injured in road traffic accidents in the UK"

          That's "only" 76 per day. It's not great, but it's a lot better than many 100's per day in just 2 months where you have far less control over whether you might be a victim or not.

          1. Cynic_999 Silver badge

            Re: One Last Push and it's Over

            "

            That's "only" 76 per day. It's not great, but it's a lot better than many 100's per day in just 2 months where you have far less control over whether you might be a victim or not.

            "

            But the 76 per day is every day for decades. The 100's per day will last a few months.

      5. Beeblebrox

        It doesn't end until we have herd immunity or a vaccine

        ... or social isolation ends all transmission.

        May be hard to achieve.

      6. Jim Birch

        Re: One Last Push and it's Over

        Also, achieving herd immunity without a vaccine or some disease mitigating drug kills a horrific number of people. These don't exist at present.

        New York data suggest a mortality rate of 1.4% for infected individuals. Based on random population antibody testing and excess deaths statistics, imperfect but good. This number will vary with demographics, population heath, care access, etc, but it's a reasonable ball park.

        Read the source: https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/coronavirus-death-rate/

  3. Chris G Silver badge

    Name, phone number and email

    How is any of this preserving privacy and what is meant by stored locally?

    Governments and police forces generally don't give up any information they may have on you easily.

    It is also unclear as to how the details taken by businesses is stored and for how long they are obliged to keep it.

    Papieren bitte!

    1. veti Silver badge

      Re: Name, phone number and email

      In case you missed it, the Pm explicitly says that if you choose to upload the collected data, it will only be available to health services. Police don't get it.

      As for businesses, when did you hear of one that was reluctant to gather and keep information about its customers? But NZ data protection law says that you have to tell people in advance what you will be using their data for, and you can't change that after the event.

      1. onemark03

        Police don't get it

        The NZ Police won't get those data? Yeah, right!

        And if Amazon really wants that data, it will find a way: like a backdoor or it will pay someone enough.

        1. Yes Me Silver badge

          Re: Police don't get it

          Hmm. (a) Be paranoid about my privacy, or (b) be traceable if I or someone close to me gets COVID-19. I pick (b), thankyou.

        2. veti Silver badge

          Re: Police don't get it

          Well yes, if Amazon really wants the data, I'm sure there are ways they could get it. Ditto GCHQ or the NSA or the Illuminati. But what would they do with it?

          Bear in mind that if anyone twigged and could prove that they'd accessed it, there would be big, big repercussions, both legal and reputational. What gain would be worth running that risk?

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    IQ downward spiral...

    Perhaps because the ignorant unwashed there are burning down cell towers because "5G causes coronavirus", so you can imagine the storm in a lemmings cup a Bluetooth solution would have stirred up...

    Hallo NZ, welcome to Idiocracy!

    1. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: IQ downward spiral...

      Possibly governments world wide are reaping the whirlwind, after years of reducing spending and lowering standards on education so that everyone and his dog can leave school with a piece of paper that isn't an expulsion, they have populations of dummies who believe anything they hear ' on dah toobs'!

      1. veti Silver badge

        Re: IQ downward spiral...

        Like there was some golden age when there were no stupid people?

        1. BenDwire

          Re: IQ downward spiral...

          Villages have always had their idiots, but now they are all connected to each other and have formed a mob. Social media gives them the same reach as more eductated sources, making it much harder for the averagely schooled to work out what to believe. Monitization, like ads and click-bait, has made misinformation even more skewed.

          1. veti Silver badge

            Re: IQ downward spiral...

            Oh yes, of course. Mob. Now that's a thing that never happened pre-internet.

            1. YetMeh

              Re: IQ downward spiral...

              Of course there might be a slight difference between 'local' mob rule (ie pitchforks & torches) to 'interweb' mob rule (anti-social media etc.)....maybe?

    2. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: IQ downward spiral...

      I think many people in many other countries would look at their nation's their own Covid-19 response and sign up for the kind of idiocracy NZ has in a heartbeat.

      1. Deltics

        Re: IQ downward spiral...

        It's not the idiocracy that was responsible for the favorable covid19 outcome. For that just look to the geographical remoteness, sparse population and lack of major population centres.

        Goodness knows there are a litany of failings that can be enumerated in the NZ governments response. The only thing the government managed effectively was their own image.

        1. Adair Silver badge

          Re: IQ downward spiral...

          Perfection is not the aim, nor the expectation - good enough is good enough.

          Guess what, the NZ Government, and the nation's response has been: good enough.

          1. Cynic_999 Silver badge

            Re: IQ downward spiral...

            I doubt that the NZ government's response has had any significant effect at all. I think the favourable outcome in NZ is more to do with the population density and social norms than anything done on purpose. I suspect that the figures in Pitcairne also look really good.

            1. Jim Birch

              Re: IQ downward spiral...

              Social distancing, contact tracing and quarantine are the best defenses. And starting early and strong. NZ ticks all the boxes. Lower population density, climate factors and less international travellers help but alone they won't achieve what NZ has, i.e. very close to elimination.

            2. Yes Me Silver badge

              Re: IQ downward spiral...

              Rubbish. They closed the border a bit late, but started contact tracing from the very first case, and imposed distancing measures in good time. 100% is due to the excellent, coordinated, well communicated government response. No country has done better. Kudos to the government. Even their right wing opponents know that they did almost everything right.

              Of course, having no land borders made it easier. But thousands of people arrive by air every day in normal times.

              1. Deltics

                Re: IQ downward spiral...

                Yes, we have a lot of people arriving by air, but not as many as countries with much closer neighbours.

                Ireland (Republic of) makes a very good comparison. They have an almost identical population but squeezed into 1/4 the land area. Their airports see 3x the international passenger movements that NZ does (30m vs 10m), being much closer to the UK and Europe. On top of that, they also have 3 MILLION sea port passenger movements in a year. NZ by contrast receives just 300 THOUSAND cruise ship passengers.

                Ireland instituted a lockdown comparable to NZ's at more or less the same time as NZ with approximately the same number of cases at the point. Yet the outcomes were vastly different. The Irish lockdown wasn't CALLED a lockdown yet in some respects had stronger measures. e.g. a limit on a 2km radius from home for exercising. The "limit" in NAZ was "keep it as local as possible" with people interpreting this in some cases to mean going on 40+ km bike rides around the Auckland region, or driving to beaches and reserves to take their exercise.

                The NZ government's response certainly gave the impression of, and claimed to be, well communicated, but in practice the messaging was vague and inconsistent, the lockdown "rules" were issued as guidance, peppered with "as possible" and "ideally", allowing people to interpret them as they saw fit. In our own neighbourhood social distancing was a joke and there were flagrant breaches of the LAW (never mind the lock down rules) such as exercising dogs off-leash in areas where the law required them to be on leash; the lockdown rules required them to be on leash at ALL times, even in areas where off-leash exercise was normally permitted.

                The "closure" of our borders was not "a bit late" it was ridiculously late, and followed border protection "controls" that were an absolute joke. Even when the border was finally closed to all but NZ residents and citizens and relatives, arrivals were required only to promise, hand-on-heart, honest-injun, to self isolate. The government SAID that everyone would be receiving a visit from police within 3 days to ensure that this was observed, but the REALITY as admitted by the Commissioner of Police, was that this simply did not happen and that there was no effective follow up. In the few cases that were followed up, there were a significant number of examples where the property given as the self-isolation address was found to be empty.

                "Kudos to the government" ?

                The only people giving kudos to the government are those fawning followers of the Jacinda Ardern personality cult and those ignorant of the reality (which is sadly a great number since political engagement here is absolutely woeful).

  5. TrumpSlurp the Troll Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    Trust?

    The difference that I think I am seeing is that the people in NZ trust the current government with their data.

    Wheras in the UK........

    1. Cynic_999 Silver badge

      Re: Trust?

      Is there any evidence that the surveillance in NZ prevented even 1 case of Covid-19?

      1. Jim Birch

        Re: Trust?

        You are joking? Or clueless?

    2. onemark03

      Re: Trust?

      The NZ (govt) authorities and private sector have a shocking attitude to data confidentiality.

      1. Yes Me Silver badge

        Re: Trust?

        NZ is a large village where an amazing number of people know each other, and very few of them are paranoid about their own government, which they have a chance to throw out every 3 years. So data privacy, while it's a thing, and occasionally gets breached, is not what people worry about. At the moment they don't need to worry too much about COVID-19 either, and if the cost of that was lost privacy (which I don't think it was) then most people would <shrug/>.

  6. This post has been deleted by its author

  7. osakajin

    Do not support this.

    Am i the only one worried that gov took as their model of (unnecessary) control what the totalitarian Chinese gov did?

    You will not undo this activity. We are being trained to accept total state survelliance.

    Do not accept this.

  8. Whoisthis

    reinventing the wheel?

    Doesn't Google track your every movement by default, and make it like look like it's doing you a favour by giving you a timeline of where you've been?

    And I remember there was an article on here sometime ago on FB making associations between people just based on proximity even though not socially linked.

    And scanning QR codes with your phone is no guarantee that the info will stay on your phone. If the app won't do it, Huawei/Xiaomi/Google/any other might.

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