A smartphone app which can be used to alert people if they have been in contact with a person who has tested positive for the coronavirus may be ready at the end of the month.
SE chief Paul Reid said it would tell someone if they had been within two metres over a period of 15 minutes of someone who had tested positive.
The app would speed up the tracing of contacts of newly diagnosed people with the virus and improve efforts needed to curb the spread of the virus.
He said that data would be stored in the users’ own phones and not in the health system.
The storage of data was a key concern of European regulators but, unlike other countries, the information here will not be kept by the health service.
Mr Reid said people could opt to provide their phone number but it was an option. It will work on Bluetooth technology.
The hope is that this will be a significant additional tool as the coronavirus testing regime here is expanded to 100,0000 tests a week from mid-May.
An efficient testing and tracing system is key to easing the lockdown and ensuring any rise in cases is picked up as people begin to mix more.
Mr Reid said the information about contacts of a new case is currently transferred to tracers manually but this would be done electronically shortly.
On the progress in testing, he said more than 176,000 tests had been completed up to Friday.
“It’s all about building up a capacity to do 100,000 tests per week. We’ll have this in place for the week of May 18,” he said.
He said 60,000 swabs were taken last week and 57,000 had been analysed by laboratories.
The wait for a test result was now around three days, he added.
Dr Cillian de Gascun, of the National Virus Reference Laboratory, told Brendan O’Connor on RTÉ yesterday that families should be able to mingle among themselves more from early June if testing shows there is an ongoing downward trend in the spread of the virus here.