Health

ACT ends contact tracing app mandate

The Australian Capital Territory government has fully lifted the mandate to use Check In CBR, its QR code-based contact tracing app, across the state.

From Friday last week, licensed venues, registered clubs, nightclubs, strip clubs, brothels and non-ticketed events are no longer required to have mandatory scan-in requirements.

Automatic notifications to users who have visited these high-risk settings have also ceased.

WHY IT MATTERS

As the state’s COVID-19 response has evolved over the past months, “contact tracing is no longer a key component,” said ACT Minister for Health Rachel Stephen-Smith. ACT started dialling down on contact tracing and other COVID-19 measures in December last year.

Still, the state government is encouraging citizens to keep the Check In CBR app on their phones as it will soon get upgraded with a new health screening tool.

To be released on 20 May, the upcoming screening tool, according to Stephen-Smith, is “consistent across facilities, easy to use, and takes advantage of Canberrans’ familiarity with the Check In CBR app”.

High-risk settings such as hospitals and correctional facilities can voluntarily use the upgraded app to streamline health screening and checking-in visitors. They will have to apply for a new QR code that will automatically launch the screening function when a visitor checks in through the app.

Another new feature coming to the contact tracing app is a direct link to an online form to record positive rapid antigen test results.

THE LARGER TREND

New Zealand has also ended the compulsory use of its NZ COVID Tracer app, alongside dropping the mandatory use of vaccine passes. The government said it saw no need to conduct wider contact tracing except in high-risk facilities. 

However, it also told citizens to keep their apps for when contact tracing will be mandated again once a new COVID-19 variant emerges.

In both Australia and New Zealand, the highly infectious BA.2.12.1 strain of the BA.2 Omicron variant has been detected. It has driven fresh outbreaks in several locations worldwide, including the US and China.

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