“No single system is a solution to the problem of managing COVID-19,” Mr Mussared said. “But every extra thing makes a difference. Push notifications for case alerts are a big step forward and another tool to help people know they need to be aware of symptoms and encourage people to keep getting tested.
“It’s great we finally got here [with case alerts] but this could have been implemented a year ago and with better privacy controls about how data is stored, which has been done well in New Zealand and the UK.”
Sydney software developer Richard Nelson agreed that few people would be “proactively going in to view their check-in history” and without push notifications, the case alert feature “would be almost useless”.
The NSW government has said while standard contact tracing measures are in place, the system is less reliant on the use of smartphone notifications.
Mr Dominello told the Herald the aim would be to accompany these alerts with push notifications through the app from December 1 as the state scaled down tracing.
“We are adding new functionality to the Service NSW app to support our world-class contact tracers as we continue to reopen the state. In-app case alerts make it easier for customers to see if they have visited an exposure site. They are displayed with a red icon in the check-in history section of the app,” Mr Dominello said.
“Come December 1, we aim to accompany these alerts with push notifications through the Service NSW app.”
Mr Nelson said that when COVIDSafe was active in April last year, “the tech community said notifications were essential if infections escalate and tracers were overwhelmed.
“And they are only just getting around to automatic alerting more than one year later,” Mr Nelson said.
NSW reported 282 new local cases of COVID-19 and one death on Tuesday, with more than 120 infections across the Hunter, Murrumbidgee region and the Mid North Coast.
A total of 457 patients are in NSW hospitals with COVID-19 and 109 are in intensive care. There were 71,352 tests recorded. Just over 93 per cent of the state’s over 16 population have received their first dose of a vaccine and 85 per cent are double-dosed.
COVID-19 isolation requirements were overhauled from October 11, with people now identified as close contacts of a positive case only needing to isolate for one week if they are fully vaccinated.
NSW Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant said while close contacts are generally household members of positive cases, such as partners and friends, anyone can be identified as a close contact including at workplaces and high-risk settings, such as healthcare and aged care.
“In general, a close contact is someone in the household. So we know that anyone that lives with the person with COVID is a high risk. But occasionally a [close contact will be identified] in a workplace context,” Dr Chant said.
NSW Health has previously said the Service NSW QR code check-in system will remain in place to notify people who were in the same venue as a positive case.
“People will be asked to monitor for symptoms and get tested if they become unwell. Other settings, including schools, workplaces and high-risk settings, such as healthcare and aged care, will have specific risk assessment approaches,” a spokesperson for NSW Health said.
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