The Government has promised that a Covid-19 contact-tracing app will be available in less than a fortnight.

The announcement comes as the Australian Government launched its own voluntary app, designed to limit the spread of Covid-19 through an early notification system.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has said in recent weeks that technology would be part of the answer to speeding up contact tracing.

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"It [the app] will have basic functionality, but even that will be important, as it will help update our national health database with the user's contact details," Ardern said earlier this month.

New data from Horizon Research found that 73 per cent of New Zealanders surveyed support personal mobile data being used for Covid-19 tracking.

Contact tracing mobile phone app, like this version from Singapore, will record the user's movements and will be a useful tool in combating Covid-19. Photo / Alex Robertson
Contact tracing mobile phone app, like this version from Singapore, will record the user's movements and will be a useful tool in combating Covid-19. Photo / Alex Robertson

When extrapolated, Horizon said this equates to around 2,613,800 of the country's 3,595,518 adults supporting use of data from their own mobiles.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison yesterday launched the COVIDSafe app – an app he said will "save lives and save livelihoods".

The app is voluntary but Morrison is encouraging everyone in Australia to download it.

"The more people who download this important public health app, the safer they and their family will be, the safer their community will be and the sooner we can safely lift restrictions and get back to business and do the things we love," he said.

Once downloaded, the app requests the user's phone number, name, age-range and postcode.

It then connects to other phones which also have the app and records anyone who the user has been in close proximity to for more than 15 minutes.

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If anyone in this category tests positive, the user will receive a notification, letting them know they have been in contact with someone with Covid-19.

Morrison said COVIDSafe would speed up the process of identifying people who have been in close contact with someone diagnosed with coronavirus, quickly stopping further spread of the virus in the community.

New Zealand's Ministry of Health said the contact-tracing app being released in two weeks would be the first version of the app, and would enable people to pre-register contact details to help contact-tracers in their work.

"The app itself is undergoing further development," the ministry said.

That included work on the use of scannable QR codes, which would allow people to check-in at businesses or other destinations.

Earlier this month, Ardern said the Government was investigating the Singaporean Government's Bluetooth-based app TraceTogether. It records interactions between a phone and any other phones nearby that have the app installed.

But she warned it was not perfect technology.

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"The data is stored on the phone, and if the user tests positive, they then release the data to the Government for contact tracing. Close contacts can then be automatically notified of their need to self-isolate and be tested."

Covid19.govt.nz: The Government's official Covid-19 advisory website