United Kingdom begins testing a new app to fight COVID-19 spread

Henrietta Strickland
August 13, 2020

The Government has since moved on to technology designed by Apple and Google - already used in several countries across the world - which handles data in a more privacy-friendly manner and does not suffer the same type of accuracy error.

Isle of Wight MP Bob Seely urged islanders to download the app, saying it was "good for our nation".

The Department of Health and Social Care said that trials of the app began on the Isle of Wight, with testing in the London borough of Newham scheduled to begin soon. It they are told to self-isolate a timer helps count down the period.

Island residents will receive a personal invitation to join in the trial by post.

The app was supposed to be the linchpin in Prime Minister Boris Johnson's plan for a "world beating" COVID-19 test-and-trace system that would control local flare-ups of the virus and allow the economy to reopen.

The UK app team's developers hope they can do other things to improve the app's accuracy to prevent false positives causing lots of unnecessary self-isolation measures (but better safe than sorry?) The BBC report wraps up by suggesting that it is hoped the app will use accurate enough to be truly useful in stopping the spread of Covid-19 by the end of the year.

"By launching an app that supports our integrated, localised approach to NHS Test and Trace, anyone with a smartphone will be able to find out if they are at risk of having caught the virus, quickly and easily order a test, and access the right guidance and advice, said Harding".

We know that Newham has seen some of the most significant impacts of Covid-19 due to the health inequalities and vulnerabilities in our communities, said Rokhsana Fiaz, the Mayor of Newham a diverse area of east London with a large ethnic minority population. "This app is another tool in our toolkit for helping to contain the virus".

The new trial will be conducted on the Isle of Wight, where the initial pilot took place back in May, as well as in one other area and a volunteer group.

"NHS Test and Trace is vital to controlling the spread of coronavirus and this app is created to give people maximum freedom at minimum risk", Thompson said.

The DHSC said its fresh attempt uses the latest security technology designed with user privacy in mind.

The app, which was developed in conjunction with privacy experts and companies such as Google and Apple, is similar to technology being used in Germany and Ireland. "We are hugely grateful to everyone playing their part to rigorously test the new app and provide the foundation for a national roll out".

It is still not clear when the Government intends to make the app more widely available across England, with those behind the app giving no firm timetable.

Northern Ireland has already launched its own app, while Scotland is expected to have one by autumn.

The government said the app would complement the human test-and-trace programme that has been running since May.

"The app should enable us to return to more normal daily activities with the reassurance that our contacts can be rapidly and anonymously notified if we get infected", he added.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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