Chamber waiting on govt approval for tracing app

Thursday 11 March 2021 | Written by Emmanuel Samoglou | Published in Health, National

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Chamber waiting on govt approval for tracing app
A Prime Foods customer tagging into the CookSafe Covid-19 contact tracing system. 21021610

Along with Covid-19 testing, contact tracing has been identified as a key element for a travel bubble with NZ. Local efforts to develop a robust system are nearing the final stages.

Contact tracing efforts are set to get a boost as an agreement is expected to be signed between the Chamber of Commerce and Government this week to get the CookSafePLUS system ready for a possible two-way bubble with New Zealand.

The system is still under development with additional functionality being added to the existing CookSafe system, which uses QR cards scanned by users at participating locations around Rarotonga.

The Cook Islands Chamber of Commerce is currently overseeing efforts to modify the CookSafe system by adding Bluetooth functionality, which will make it compatible with NZ’s Covid Tracer app.

To push things forward, Cook Islands Chamber of Commerce chief executive officer Eve Hayden said the Chamber needs to secure additional funding through a revamped memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the government.

“We haven’t had our MOU adjusted at this stage, so we’re waiting to have that adjusted so we can continue and enhance the work that we’re doing,” she said.

While the existing QR-code based CookSafe system will serve users without access to a smartphone, the new system – which has been dubbed CookSafePLUS – will work with a downloadable smartphone app.

When installed, it will track the movements of users and can determine if close contact was made with someone who has tested positive for Covid-19.

Hayden said an updated MOU between the Chamber and the Ministry of Finance Economic Management and Te Marae Ora Ministry of Health will allow them to move forward and release CookSafePLUS to users in advance of any decision to implement two-way, quarantine-free travel with NZ.

“We need the go-ahead that gives us the authority to do the next block of work. So that is to teach, promote, and rollout CookSafePLUS which is the Bluetooth app,” she said.

“… there’s another chunk of work that needs to be done as to how we promote and get that rolled out.”

Hayden is expecting user acceptance testing on the app to begin next week.

Development of the CookSafePLUS app is being assisted by the ICT division of the Office of the Prime Minister.

According to statistics released by the Chamber, between 5000 and 8000 scans are being made each week with the CookSafe QR code system.