October 27, 2020

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Service NSW rolls out statewide check-in app

The Service NSW app will roll out the use of QR codes to help capture guest information and make check-ins at venues easier. The information will be stored securely for NSW Health officials to access quickly if contact tracing is required.

Businesses are encouraged to use the app. The service is free and will help businesses comply with public health orders. Around 400 businesses initially trialled the QR code check-in process, with the app passing an independent privacy review. Close to 2.2 million customers have the Service NSW app on their mobile phones.

The Minister for Customer Service stated that customers should download the latest version of the app. He added that customers can already use their Service NSW app to complete several transactions, so it makes sense for them to be able to use it to check-in to venues as well.

To help stop the spread of COVID-19, most businesses now need to keep a record of who has visited their premises, the NSW Service website notes. If a visitor tests positive, NSW Health will then be able to alert other visitors who may have been in contact with that person.

Contact tracing is one of the most powerful tools to stop the spread of COVID-19 in our community. The Service NSW app can be used to check in to a COVID Safe business that is using the COVID Safe QR code. Users will be notified by the Service NSW app, phone or email if there is or has been an outbreak at the location being checked in to.

When users check in to a business using the Service NSW app, only the location of the business and time of visit is recorded. This information is stored for 28 days and only for contact tracing, if necessary. It’s a secure way for user information to be stored so they can be contacted easily if required.

On 8 September 2020, it was reported that Australia’s Chief Scientist will take Victorian health officials to Sydney to study NSW’s “gold standard” contact tracing, as the Chief Health Officer conceded that infection numbers outstripped Victoria’s tracing capacity when the second surge took off in July.

As part of the government’s efforts to boost confidence in the state’s contact tracing, the Premier announced the Department of Health and Human Services will begin publishing weekly contact tracing performance metrics online.

The number of infections in healthcare will also be reported weekly, following the launch of the government’s Protecting our Healthcare Workers plan on August 25 – more than five months after the pandemic began and as the number of cases among healthcare workers topped 2700.

The need for this contact tracing app is evident. A report from 16 September 2020 noted that there are 10 new cases of coronavirus in NSW, with six of those in hotel quarantine. The Premier of New South Wales stated that said all cases are linked to known clusters, and yesterday’s mystery case has now been linked to a source. She also said there were nearly 20,000 tests done and asked people not to delay seeking a test if they are sick or if it is the weekend.

Of the four locally acquired cases, three are linked to a staff member at Concord Hospital’s emergency department. These three cases are a student from the Blue Mountains Grammar School, a household contact who also goes to the school, and a close contact not at school. NSW is increasing the number of towns included in the border community and has provided hundreds of permits for agriculture workers to move more freely.