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The launch of the Covid Tracker App is being described as a “good news day” for the country.

Over 400,000 downloads by 2pm were recorded for the app which helps to identify close contacts of people who test positive for the virus.

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It’s cost €850,000 and was first promised in March, but finally the Covid- tracker app has been launched.

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly says it’s essential for managing further outbreaks:

”Covid-19 is still with us, and it is entirely possible that we will see many more outbreaks. Today is a good news day for covid-19.”

Minister Donnelly said privacy had been placed “right at the heart” of the design and insisted that “every single person who downloads this app makes Ireland safer.”

The take up has surprised developers and health officials including HSE CEO Paul Reid:

”I woke up this morning. I actually thought I had a dream. I had a dream that we had a quarter of a million registered users with the app. I can confirm it isn’t a dream, which is well beyond what any of us had expected.”

The app helps identify close contacts of people who test positive by sending a notification to their phones.

A close contact is someone who was within two metres of a confirmed case for 15 minutes or more.

While concerns are being raised about privacy, designers say it has been developed with privacy by design at its core, using the exchange of anonymous codes, and information isn’t stored on a government server.