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COVID-19 Contact Tracing

Contact tracing is one of the main issues facing the science and health sectors in New Zealand while trying to eliminate the scourge COVID-19.

There have been a number of suggestions as to the best way to go about contact tracing, in the event someone gets the virus. One suggestion is an app on smart-phones which talk to other phones in their vicinity. Singapore has been experimenting with this. There are several drawbacks to this such as, not everyone has a smart-phone; the phone has to have the app installed; there have apparently been some issues with i-phones and a high percentage of people have to have such a phone with them for it to be effective. Some people also feel there are privacy issues using samrt-phones

A very good possibility, in my humble opinion, is what is being called a CovidCard, Every person in NZ would be issued with one of these credit card sized cards which would be bluetooth enabled and each would have a unique number. Each card would record the numbers of those cards it came in close contact with, so that in the event that someone went down with COVID-19, all the recent contacts could be downloaded from that person’s card and the contacts notified and could then be tested. After 30 days those contacts would automatically be deleted as no longer relevant. After 12 months the battery would be exhausted if the card had not already ceased to be of relevance and destroyed.

The big drawback to this is that the cost to set up, produce, circulate and other associated costs, is estimated to be $100 million. Could this be a good investment? We will have to wait (not to long I hope) for the government to decide and it might have better and cheaper ideas.

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