Questions and answers on NZ COVID Tracer

Answers to common queries about the NZ COVID Tracer mobile app.

On this page:


Using the app

Why has my phone stopped being able to scan QR codes?

If you could previously scan the official QR codes with NZ COVID Tracer but this has stopped working, it's likely you don't have the latest version installed on your phone. For information on how to update NZ COVID Tracer, please refer below to 'How do I update the app?'

Please do not uninstall and reinstall NZ COVID Tracer as this will delete your check-in history.

How do I update the app?

If your phone is set to automatic updates, NZ COVID tracer will update automatically within a few days of an update being released.

You can also manually update NZ COVID Tracer:

  • For iPhone users, open the App Store and tap ‘Today’ at the bottom of the screen. Then tap your profile icon to bring up your Account. Scroll down until you see NZ COVID Tracer and then tap ‘Update’.
  • For Android users, open the Play Store and tap on the three horizonal lines at the top-left of the screen to open the sidebar. Open ‘My apps & games’ and select the ‘Updates’ tab. Then scroll down until you see NZ COVID Tracer and tap ‘Update’.

Which QR codes do I scan?

NZ COVID Tracer is designed to work with the official Ministry of Health QR codes only. The app will not recognise other QR codes.

The official QR code posters:

  • display the Ministry of Health logo
  • include the text 'SCAN HERE TO SIGN-IN WITH THE NZ COVID TRACER APP’ above the QR code
  • include the text ‘Sign-in. Stop the virus.’ below the QR code area
  • do not display any website URLs or direct you to a website when scanned.

QR code sign-in poster with the COVID-19 yellow stripes.

Why can’t I scan other QR codes?

QR codes work in a similar way to barcodes. However, unlike barcodes, there is no universal standard for how the information is encoded, and the QR codes for different apps may contain different information from each other.

We have released data specifications so the developers of other apps can adopt the official QR codes. This will reduce the number of QR codes displayed by each business and will support more effective contact tracing. 

What about locations without a QR code?

All businesses and organisations are encouraged to display the official QR code posters. However, participation with NZ COVID Tracer is entirely voluntary. If there is no poster on display, you can still keep track of your visit by keeping your own record. 

NZ COVID Tracer does not allow you to manually add a location to your digital diary at this time. However, we are considering this for a future update as we know Kiwis want to use the app to record when they visit their friends and whānau.

What should I do if I receive a contact alert?

Receiving a contact alert does not necessarily mean you have been exposed to COVID-19.

The contact alert means you have used NZ COVID Tracer to check into a location at around the same time as a confirmed or probable case of COVID-19, and where contact tracers consider there may have been a risk of exposure. You may not have come into close contact with that person, or if you did, it may not have been for long enough to present a significant risk of exposure.

A contact alert is a simple way of making you aware that there is a risk of exposure. You are not required to start self-isolating after you receive a contact alert. However, if you feel unwell or start to develop COVID-19 symptoms, you should immediately contact Healthline on 0800 358 5453.

If you are identified through the contact tracing process as having a higher risk of exposure to COVID-19, for example if you were seated in close proximity to the confirmed case, contact tracers will contact you directly with further advice.

Find out about COVID-19 symptoms

Information on how to contact Healthline if you are deaf or hard of hearing can be found at COVID-19: Information and advice for the deaf community.

When will Bluetooth be available?

We are continuing to consider how Bluetooth can best contribute to contact tracing. However, we’ve seen with overseas apps that Bluetooth tracing is not yet completely reliable. For example, it can detect someone on a different floor of the same building, or electronic interference can prevent detection altogether. It can also lead to excessive battery usage.

In addition, Bluetooth does not provide the accurate location information that is critical to effective contact tracing, as this helps us reliably identify potential clusters and other sources of transmission. Without the accurate GLNs provided through the official QR Codes, we could send contact alerts to the wrong people about the wrong locations. 

The Ministry has also noted the release of the Apple/Google Exposure Notifications System API. We will be monitoring how the API supports contact tracing apps in other jurisdictions and how privacy and security is protected. 

Do I have to use the app?

NZ COVID Tracer is entirely voluntary, but using it can help protect your friends, whānau and community by enabling faster contact tracing.

What’s important is to keep a record of where you’ve been and people you’ve seen in case a contact tracer needs to get in touch. You can also make sure we have your current contact information by registering your details through the web app at tracing.covid19.govt.nz.

Can I sign in my children with the app?

You only need to sign into a location once, even if you have your children with you or someone else under your care.

If we need to get in touch for contact tracing, we will ask about your family household and if anyone was with you at the places you have visited.

Does the app replace manual contact tracing?

The more New Zealanders who download and use NZ COVID Tracer, the more effective it will be. The information we receive from the app will enable faster contact tracing and make it easier to get in touch with people when we need to.

However, technologies like NZ COVID Tracer are just one part of contact tracing and are designed to support rather than replace the existing contact tracing processes led by the National Close Contact Service (NCCS) and our Public Health Units (PHUs).

PHUs can deal with up to 185 cases a day, while the NCCS now has more than 200 staff who can make up to 10,000 phone calls to close contacts daily.


Privacy and security

How is my privacy and data security protected? 

The Ministry of Health has consulted with the Privacy Commissioner to ensure NZ COVID Tracer protects your privacy. NZ COVID Tracer has also been through independent security testing.

See Privacy and security for further information.

Why do I need a long/complex password?

To ensure NZ COVID Tracer is secure, the Ministry of Health has followed the password standards set out in the New Zealand Information Security Manual, which provides guidance on information assurance and information systems security. 

We are also considering support for built-in password managers and biometrics for a future release of the app.

Can I change my email address after I register? 

In the current version of NZ COVID Tracer, it is not possible to change your email address after registering the app. 
Future updates to NZ COVID Tracer may include the ability to update your email address. In the interim, if you change your email address after registering the app you will need to uninstall and reinstall NZ COVID Tracer. Please note this will also delete your digital diary. 

Can two people use the same email address? 

Unfortunately, it is not possible to use the same email address with more than one copy of NZ COVID Tracer. This is a privacy and data security requirement.


Businesses and organisations

Where do I get the official QR code posters?

The more official QR code posters on display the more Kiwis will be able to keep track of where they’ve been with NZ COVID Tracer.

See QR codes to find out how to get your official QR code posters. 

Do I have to display the official QR code poster? 

Participation with NZ COVID Tracer is entirely voluntary. However, the Ministry of Health strongly encourages you to generate and display the official QR code posters if you have premises regularly visited by the public

The more official QR code posters on display, the more Kiwis will be able to keep track of where they’ve been with the NZ COVID Tracer app. This will improve contact tracing so we can respond quickly if there is a further outbreak of COVID-19 in New Zealand.

Will a contact alert identify my business?

Contact alerts to NZ COVID Tracer users will not specify which of the locations recorded in their digital diary is the location where they may have been exposed to COVID-19.

Contact tracers will independently contact you to identify whether a contact tracing register is available and obtain any other relevant information. For example, this may include information about the staff or other people who may have been at the premises during the relevant timeframe.


Accessibility

What are the hardware/system requirements?

NZ COVID Tracer is compatible with most mobile operating systems and devices. In the current release of NZ COVID Tracer, Android devices need to have Android 7.0 or later while Apple devices need iOS 12 or later. 

If you have an older operating system, you may be able to update it to a more recent version. For information on how to update your phone’s operating system, please refer to the guidance for Android users or Apple users as applicable.

Future updates to NZ COVID Tracer will include support for older devices and systems. In the interim, if you don’t have a compatible mobile device or operating system, it’s a good idea to keep a manual record of the people you’ve seen and the places you’ve been in case it is needed for contact tracing.

You can also make sure we have your current contact information by registering your details through the web app at tracing.covid19.govt.nz.

How does the app support accessibility?

We want to make sure NZ COVID Tracer can be used by as many New Zealanders as possible. We have followed the Government’s Web Accessibility Standards as closely as possible in the development of the app.

NZ COVID Tracer has been designed to make use of assistive technology features on smartphones where possible, including VoiceOver on iOS and TalkBack on Android.

To improve accessibility for people who are blind or have low vision, the latest release of the app includes haptic feedback for supported devices that confirms when you have scanned one of the official QR codes. 

We know this doesn’t ‘solve’ accessibility for NZ COVID Tracer, and we will continue working to identify further accessibility improvements for subsequent releases.

We are also looking to include support for languages other than English in a future release.

It is important to note that NZ COVID Tracer is intended to support rather than replace the existing contact tracing processes led by our Public Health Units and the National Close Contact Service. What’s important is that New Zealanders keep a record of where they’ve been and who they’ve seen in case a contact tracer needs to get in touch.

What languages are supported?

NZ COVID Tracer is currently available in English only. We intend to include support for te reo Māori, Chinese and Pacific languages in a future update.


Further questions and feedback 

If the answer to your question isn’t on this page, or the other pages in this section, you can contact the NZ COVID Tracer app team.

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