Updated HOIA application mapping more close contacts

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The "HOIA" coronavirus tracing app launched by the Ministry of Social Affairs. Source: Ministry of Social Affairs.

The updated HOIA app finds almost twice as many close contacts as before -- previously, the application found 35 percent of actual close contacts, while after the update, this figure is 66 percent.

Kerstin-Gertrud Karblane, chief specialist at the infectious disease monitoring and epidemic control department at the Health Board, said that the application uses Bluetooth Low Energy radio signals for mapping, measuring the signal strength and duration between two phones.

"In the first development phase of HOIA, measurements made in Switzerland in 2020 were used as a basis. This year, extensive tests were performed in the United States and the United Kingdom, and signal strengths were calculated to better record close contacts. Given the high level of infection in Estonia, it is important to identify as many close contacts as possible," she said.

"HOIA creates significant added value to the work of the Health Board, as it is able to identify contacts that the infected person does not know or remember," Karblane said.

The purpose of the application is to inform the close contacts of those infected with the coronavirus and, with this, give them initial instructions on how to proceed.

"By using the application, it is possible to contribute to reducing the number of infections in Estonia. HOIA is one of several tools in our toolbox to limit the spread of this virus," she added.

With researchers from Apple, Google and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne in Switzerland, who are developing the technologies that HOIA is based on, the Health Board has reached new settings, which will be introduced in the application this week.

How can the spread of coronavirus be stopped?

  • The most efficient measure is keeping your distance.
  • In crowded places and especially indoors where it is not possible to keep your distance from other people, it is advisable to wear a mask.
  • Closed, crowded spaces should be avoided if possible.
  • Hands must be washed frequently with soap and warm water.
  • When you sneeze or cough, cover your mouth and nose with disposable tissue.
  • Anyone who becomes ill should stay at home, even if their symptoms are mild.
  • People who develop any symptoms should contact their family physician.

Download 'HOIA'

You can also download Estonia's coronavirus exposure notification app 'HOIA' which will alert you if you have been in close contact with someone who later tests positive for coronavirus.

The free app can be downloaded at the Google Play Store or App Store. Read ERR News' feature about the app here. 

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Editor: Helen Wright

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