Auckland Transport’s contact tracing strategy may not work well for elderly riders.
Starting Friday, all public transportation users in Auckland, New Zealand, will be required to use the COVID-19 Tracer app QR codes displayed. However, many people are concerned that seniors won’t be able to use this technology.
Many elderly transit users do not have the smartphones needed to scan the QR codes.
That said, the New Zealand government has stated that there are other ways for people to be able to ensure they are contacted if it is believed that they could have been exposed to COVID-19. It isn’t uncommon for seniors to have flip phones and old Nokia models and feature phones that still function for making phone calls and texting but little else. That said, those older device models don’t have the capability to download the COVID-19 Tracer app or scan a barcode. The same can be said for seniors who don’t have cell phones at all.
The application was developed to help make it easy to identify anyone who may have been exposed to the coronavirus if they spent any time near someone who has since received a positive test result. The app alerts anyone who may have been affected so they can be tested for the virus.
The COVID-19 Tracer app works through QR code scans upon entry to all public transit.
New Zealand Health Minister Chris Hipkins assured the public that even people who are not able to scan QR codes, it’s still possible to achieve adequate contact tracing.
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“There are other ways if we end up needing to contact trace someone on public transport, and they haven’t scanned their QR code, as long as we know what bus they were on and what time they were on that bus,” he said. By other ways, Hipkins said: “We do that through public notifications which we have done.”
The risk associated with public transportation was recently placed in the spotlight when two people riding on the same bus – though not together – were each diagnosed with the coronavirus later on. Two other people were also riding that bus, but they have yet to be identified.
Senior citizen gold cards and HOP cards can also be used to help track down riders who may have been exposed to the virus. At the moment, the HOP card is required for riding on a bus. However, the main problem with that system is that many people don’t register their cards. The public is being reminded to register their cards to make it easier to trace them in case of potential infection. The COVID-19 Tracer app helps to make that process even easier.