The long awaited NHS contact tracking app launches in two WEEKS in England and Wales

The long-awaited NHS coronavirus contact tracing app launches in two WEEKS on September 24th in England and Wales, the Department of Health confirms

  • The beleaguered app should be ready by May, but attempts with software failed
  • Uses bluetooth to keep a log of everyone who each user was close to
  • Scotland launched its app yesterday after Norther Ireland first appeared last month

The beleaguered NHS Covid-19 contact tracing app will finally be launched in England and Wales on September 24, the Ministry of Health has confirmed.

Officials have repeatedly delayed the rollout of the smartphone software since it was first expected in May, but attempts on the Isle of Wight have failed.

The app will extend the NHS Test & Trace service, which aims to track down people who were close to those infected with the coronavirus.

It will use bluetooth to keep an anonymous log of all the people each user was close to and to notify them if any of them test positive for Covid-19.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said today: "We must use every tool available to us to control the spread of the virus, including cutting-edge technology.

"The launch of the app later this month in England and Wales is a pivotal moment and will help us contain the virus at a critical time."

The announcement comes after Scotland's First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, launched the Protect Scotland app north of the border yesterday.

Officials abandoned the NHS attempt to create their own app in June when they discovered it wouldn't work on iPhones (Image: the app is in development).

England's beleaguered app, the first version of which had to be scrapped in June after a series of bugs, has now been rebuilt using technology from Google and Apple.

Bluetooth technology records which phones are within 2 meters of each other for 15 minutes and then alerts people if they have been around someone who later tested positive for Covid-19.

Users also have an "isolation attendant" that has a countdown timer if someone needs to self-isolate and that is able to "check-in" using QR codes in places like pubs and restaurants.

Based on the first half of their zip code, they are also shown how high the risk is in their area, with locations classified as low, medium or high risk.

The app will fully rely on members of the public to work together, volunteer to track their connections, and follow the instructions they receive to test and self-isolate.

Despite efforts to iron out technological flaws, the Ministry of Health has admitted that around half of those warned about being near an infected person have not been within the 2m window for 15 minutes.

And three in ten people at risk – 31 percent – receive no notification at all. In studies, it had an accuracy rate of 69 percent in detecting people at risk and an accuracy rate of 55 percent in detecting people who hadn't.


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