Kiwis urged to keep using COVID-19 tracer app as trans-Tasman bubble opens

"We never know where the next case will come from."
"We never know where the next case will come from." Photo credit: Getty

The trans-Tasman bubble has officially opened, and calls for Kiwis to keep scanning with the COVID-19 tracer app have been renewed.

On Monday, New Zealand's borders opened to Australia quarantine free. And as New Zealand prepares to welcome the Aussies back, one expert is urging Aotearoa not to get complacent.

Dr Andrew Chen, a research fellow with Koi Tū: The Centre for Informed Futures, told Newshub it's never been more important to track where you've been.

"We never know where the next case will come from."

He says there are approximately half a million "assiduous" scanners who are consistently using the app - but that needs to be higher.

"Half a million is better than none - but we would like at least two million."

Dr Chen says as public perception of risk drops, so does the use of the app - but if a new community case is recorded scanning skyrockets.

Although usage is inconsistent, he says the Bluetooth feature is "going strong" - between 1.2 and 1.3 million people have it switched on.

In terms of what could be done better, Dr Chen says there are a couple of things which could be improved to encourage more users.

The first - branching out in languages.

"At the moment the app is only available in English," he says.

"There are plenty of people who might use it if it was available in other languages."

The second would be making it easier for people with outdated phones to upgrade - increasing digital accessibility would go a long way to ensuring all of New Zealand can keep the country safe.

"If there was an easier way for them to get an updated phone they might participate."