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80% of people would consider contact tracing app to help end lockdown

8 out of 10 people would be willing to consider installing a contact tracing app if it helped bringing Covid-19 lockdown restrictions to an end.

The findings about people’s attitudes towards contact tracing come from phase three of NUIG’s nationwide survey on the impact of the coronavirus on people’s daily lives.

The Corona Citizens Science study is a collaboration between NUI Galway, the Insight Centre for Data Analytics based there, and DCU.

More than 8,700 people took part in Phase 3 of the survey, which ran for 24 hours on May 6.

Professor Anthony Staines, joint research lead at DCU, said the people surveyed seemed “quite positively disposed” towards a contact tracing app if it would help bring restrictions to an end.

“We understand that plans are in place to roll out a contact tracing app, with an opt-in clause and it will be interesting to ascertain the depth of the digital divide nationwide with it.”

The HSE has previously said that it hopes to have a prototype contact tracing app ready to roll out by the end of May.

Along with asking people about contact tracing, the survey also looked at people’s understanding of the government’s plan to come out of lockdown, and followed up on earlier questions about education, mental wellbeing, medical appointments, and more.

Almost three quarters of people said that they have a good understanding of the government’s measures for the phased reopening of the country.

But there was a little more uncertainty when it came to returning to work, and businesses reopening, with only a little over half of people feeling confident they had a clear understanding of this.

About 31% of people told the survey that they have postponed a medical appointment or check up, similar to the results from the last wave of questions.

Dr Akke Vellinga, Epidemiologist at NUIG and joint research lead, said their findings regarding previously surveyed topics have stayed relatively consistent.

“It is worrying that there is a consistent level of cancelled and postponed medical appointments which will have a knock on effect and major medical issues will emerge further down the line.

“Interestingly, our younger respondents are reporting greater levels of anxiety than older respondents and while the pandemic is impacting all of society, it is impacting younger cohorts in very specific ways.”

Since the start of the pandemic, roughly 61% of people report being more anxious in general, with the coronavirus being the source of most of it.

Of those who reported an increase in anxiety, 78% said this was mainly due to worry about their family catching the virus, or they themselves.

The impact of the pandemic on well-being and mental health would appear to be greater for younger as compared to older people, which may be due to the fact that they are likely to have experienced a greater change in their day to day living.

The full results of all three phases of the study so far can be read at www.nuigalway.ie/corona-study.

Briain Kelly
Email: news@galwaydaily.com
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