We should have gone with Covid cards

Tom Pullar-Strecker writes:

We would be in a better position fending off Covid-19 if the Cabinet had made a different decision when it met on August 3.

About now – nearly six months later – we could all be getting Kiwi-designed CovidCards through the post, which people would wear to help contact tracers track down close contacts in the event of an outbreak.

The Government would then be facing another tough choice; should it require everyone wear the cards immediately, or only at times and in places where there had been community transmission of the virus?

Or should wearing the cards be purely voluntary, as is the case with the tools provided by the existing Covid Tracer app?

As it stands though, none of those options are available to it.

Instead, we are crossing our fingers that the virus doesn’t breach MIQ, with many of us fretting about the low take-up of the Covid Tracer app and ruing human nature.

A card which automatically use bluetooth to register which other cards are nearby would have been a far superior option. Very few people are still regularly scanning in to places they visit.

The CovidCard had the advantage that everyone could use them, and they didn’t need to connect to internet or mobile networks, he noted.

But they would probably take six months to roll-out, would need to be replaced every 12 months when their batteries died, and would probably cost at least $163 million over two years, he said.

$163 million is a lot less than the cost of locking Auckland down again.

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