The UK National Health Service’s (NHS) official COVID-19 contact-tracing app has been launched across England and Wales following months of delays.
Available from today on the Apple App Store and Google Play, the NHS COVID-19 app uses Bluetooth technology to detect whether someone has come into contact with another person who has reported COVID-19 symptoms.
Encounters are recorded by the app so that if someone later reports being COVID-19 positive, other people they have come into close contact to are alerted.
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These people will then be instructed to self-isolate for 14 days. The app features a countdown clock that will show users how long they must remain at home for and will help them book a free COVID-19 test from the NHS.
A QR code scanner is also included in the new NHS COVID-19 app, which smartphone owners can use
LONDON (Reuters) – England and Wales launch a COVID-19 smartphone app on Thursday, allowing users to trace contacts, check the local level of risk and record visits to venues such as pubs, four months after the technology was promised to the public.
The NHS COVID-19 app comes as Britain braces for a second wave of infections, with daily cases numbers rising at rates not seen since the peak of the pandemic and a testing system unable to cope with demand in many areas.
The government had said a COVID-19 app would arrive in May, but early trials were dogged by problems, and developers abandoned home-grown technology in favour of Apple and Google’s model in June.
As the delay lengthened, the government downplayed the importance of smartphones in fighting COVID-19, saying that rather than an app being central to the test and trace system, it was “the cherry on the cake”.