NHS track and trace app: When will it be available and how will it work? – The SunMay 28, 2020
Human guinea pigs have been testing out the new NHS contact-tracing app since early May, but when is the app available to the rest of the UK?
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A trial of the voluntary app – provisionally called “NHS – Covid-19” – started on the Isle of Wight from Tuesday, May 5, with NHS staff on the island being able to use it before it being rolled out to all citizens.
Experts say daily infections would still have to fall further – ideally below 1,000 – before it could work effectively across Britain.
But England's excess death rate is one of the worst in Europe, figures show.
The government is hiring a team of 18,000 to trace the contacts of anyone infected with the virus.
What is it and how does it work?
The contact-tracing app is designed to let users know if they have been in close contact with someone who tests positive for coronavirus.
The purpose of the app is to track down people who have been in contact with an infected person and alert them to self-isolate faster than traditional methods.
The app keeps track of people you have been in contact with through Bluetooth signals.
If that person tests positive for the virus you will be informed and told to self-isolate.
Users of the app can voluntarily opt-in to record details of their symptoms when they start to feel unwell.
When will it be available?
The app is currently not available to everyone in the UK but launched on the Isle of Wight on May 5.
NHSX chief executive Matthew Gould said the app will be two or three weeks away for the rest of the country.
It is expected to launch in the rest of the UK in early June.
Do you have to download the app?
No, downloading the app is completely voluntary.
There is no obligation to download the app or use it, the NHS and government advisors say.
But the more people that download and use it, the more effective the app will be in helping monitor the spread of the virus and easing lockdown restrictions.
What is the technology behind it?
The app will work by using Bluetooth to log when another user's smartphone has been in close proximity.
It will be those Bluetooth signals that will indicate who needs to self-isolate after coming in contact with an infected user.
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Will the app track GPS or need mobile data?
Location data is not collected as GPS technology is not used and the app does not ask for a user’s name or other personal information.
Mobile data is not required for the use of the app as it logs Bluetooth signals which do not require data.
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