Canary Islands Trial Contact Tracing App

Canary Islands to test effectiveness of Spanish COVID-19 contact-tracing app

The Canary Islands are at the forefront of the worlds territories that are successfully managing the COVID-19 pandemic. In a further step towards its recovery, and as a sign of its commitment to a safe de-escalation of lockdown, the Canary Islands is delighted to announce it has been chosen by the Spanish Government to test the effectiveness of its new contact-tracing app.

This decision joins the one already announced by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), who has also selected the Canary Islands to verify the health and safety measures in the travellers journey, through the world’s first safe flight with passengers carrying coronavirus-free health passports.

The Minister of Tourism, Industry and Commerce, Yaiza Castilla, highlighted “the choice of the Canary Islands as the first Spanish territory to test this new COVID-19 contact-tracing reconfirms that the archipelago will be ready to safely re-open to tourists. The Canaries are already immersed in the development of its Global Tourism Safety Lab”.

This new app will be very useful to control the tourism flow and may allow for increased health security among all residents and visitors who travel to the islands. Both national and foreign visitors will have greater freedom of movement, since the app, made under protocols agreed with Europe, is designed to be interoperable between countries.

“The Canary Islands is ideal due to the importance of the tourism sector, the importance of using apps so that tourists feel safe in our country, and it is ideal because it has a regional government that is very committed to safe de-escalation,” said Nadia Calviño, Spanish Government Third Vice President and Minister for the Economy and Digital Transformation.

This app will use the decentralised model DP-3T, led by the Polytechnic University of Lausanne by the Spanish engineer Carmela Troncoso, and it will be based on the interoperability system that Google and Apple have offered. The app will be able to rapidly identify secondary cases that may arise after transmission from the primary known cases – allowing for intervention to interrupt further onward transmission. Contact tracing is an essential measure to fight the ongoing epidemic of COVID-19 and a key aspect to tourism reactivation.

The Canaries’ COVID-19 cases rate amongst the lowest in Europe. Only 0.1% of their total population has been affected and its mortality rate (7.2 death per 100.000 population) is far below European countries such as Germany (9.8), United Kingdom (53.2), Sweden (36.8) or Denmark (9.5).

According to the Minister, the project that they are developing for its application in the coming months through the Global Tourism Safety Lab, both creates and verifies the protocols for each service, minimising any risk in order to effectively communicate “health security” to tourists and residents, and thus, be able to plan a prompt reopening of the destination.

As announced previously, as part of their commitment, the islands have been selected by Zurab Pololikashvili, UNWTO’ General Secretary, to test the world’s first safe flight with passengers carrying coronavirus-free health passports. The travellers of this pioneering flight, which will take place this July, will be monitored by a secure healthy app launched by the Canarian company hi + Card, which has been selected by the UNWTO to create the digital health passport. The passengers on this flight will have a unique digital profile on their smartphones where a health entity, accredited by the Ministry of Health, will upload their medical information. The goal is to give to the travellers the peace of mind and carrying their medical data safely to certify that they are free from COVID-19. Thanks to that digital profile, airlines will be allowed to steadily increase their flight capacity.