TALLINN - The HOIA mobile app notifying users of a close contact with a coronavirus carrier, which has been downloaded by more than 300,000 people in Estonia, will close from May 2.
"The HOIA app was introduced at the start of the pandemic when there were no vaccines but there was a need to warn people," Kerstin-Gertrud Karblane, development manager at the Health Board's center for analysis and development, said. "The app has how now fulfilled its purpose and people are more aware of how to protect their health. We want to thank everyone who has used the application and helped roll it out, it has been of great help," Karblane said.
Starting from May, PCR testing will only be free of charge for the elderly and at-risk groups; however, in order to mark oneself as infected on the HOIA app, a PCR test result is needed and the number of said tests is about to decrease significantly.
Karblane said that the greater responsibility now lies with people.
"Instead of awaiting a notification from the state, people need to be guided by the normal practices regarding infectious diseases," Karblane said, adding that people must stay at home upon the onset of any virus symptoms and, in case of COVID-19, inform their close contacts themselves. If necessary, people should turn to their doctor and have a certificate for sick leave opened for them.
The HOIA app was developed in a few months at the start of the pandemic in cooperation between 12 enterprises and the state. Tanel Tera, head of e-services at the Health and Welfare Information Systems Center (TEHIK), said the cooperation project had a symbolic significance, having produced the most downloaded mobile app ever in Estonia.
"For example, for the creation of the HOIA app to even be possible, Google and Apple created completely new functions in their systems and, for the first time ever, a system of random code combinations was created in a mobile app that is unrelated to the user's personal data and location," Tera said, adding that the development of the app saw contributions by Estonia's best technology experts and international cooperation.
"HOIA is a good example of the state and the private sector jointly creating world-class solutions; however, it is important to know when a solution has fulfilled its purpose and there is no longer any need to keep it up and running," Tera said, and thanked the team for their work.