In an unknown part of the people who tested positive, the CoronaMelder app was not used for the source and contact research that followed. The Ministry of Health confirms that it has received “signals” about this. Researchers from the GGD do not always ask for the app, which means that it cannot be used.
Several people who tested positive in the past week reported to the NOS. “Neither me nor my girlfriend asked for the app”, says Stef, for example, who prefers not to use his last name in the media.
The app works largely without human intervention: whoever has it on their smartphone records new encounters in the background. But to know whether one of those contacts later turned out to be carrying the coronavirus, the intervention of a flesh and blood source and contact investigator is required.
This is done by passing a code on to the source and contact investigator, intended to prevent people from accidentally or jokingly reporting as infected. Then people could become unnecessarily frightened and quarantined. The source and contact investigator must also determine what the first day of illness is in order to know exactly which contacts should be notified.
In the end I called the GGD myself.
But exactly that GGD part is now sometimes omitted, so that the app cannot be used. “In the end I called the GGD myself and gave my code”, says Stef. “But my girlfriend hasn’t received a notification yet, so I wonder if the code has been entered.”
Another positively tested app user was also not prompted for the code. “And now I feel too lousy to look up and pass on the code myself,” she says.
Eight positively tested people stated that they could not have used the app. In two cases it was still possible after the app user had brought it up himself.
In both cases, they doubt whether the app has been used successfully. “The code didn’t work and I will be called back tomorrow,” said one of them. “That’s nine days after the first day I was contagious.”
Two corona patients say they have not yet been called by a source and contact investigator. “I’m still waiting for a call,” says one of them. He has been waiting for over a week now.
How often source and contact researchers don’t ask for the app is unclear. The Ministry of Health, the maker of the app, recognizes the signals. “We have contacted the GGD about this and they are going to work on it”, a spokesperson said. It does not always go wrong anyway: several other patients who have spoken to the NOS report that the researcher himself mentioned the app.
The GGD points out that asking for the app is in the manual for source and contact research. “But of course we cannot check whether every researcher actually asks.”
Also, not all researchers have yet had the training to use the app. “We could not release all contact investigators at once,” said the spokesman. “But it should also work without training.”
Not to jump
Earlier today it turned out that the GGD was originally not interested in the corona app. Two months after the app was announced, the health service still had doubts about its usefulness. Moreover, the GGD was afraid that the app would backfire. The GGD is now happy with the app.