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A coronavirus contact tracing app is launching across England and Wales on Thursday in what the Health Secretary has called “an important step forward” in our fight against the “invisible killer”.
The rollout follows months of delay and questions about its effectiveness in the face of mixed results from other countries which have already deployed such apps.
NHS Test and Trace, which is responsible for the service, said the app was used to send alerts to users during a trial period on the Isle of Wight and in the London borough of Newham, after people had tested positive.
The latest version was piloted among residents of both areas as well as NHS volunteers from mid-August, after the first app was marred by technical issues and eventually scrapped.
As the software is voluntary, its success will also depend heavily on how many people choose to download and use it.
An advertising campaign to promote the app will appear on television this evening with the strapline, “Protect your loved ones. Get the app”.
It comes at a critical time for the UK, with confirmed cases of Covid-19 on the rise daily.
Users can download the NHS Covid-19 app from Apple’s App Store on iOS or Google’s Play Store for Android devices.
Search ‘NHS Covid-19’.
Users will be met with details about what the app does and a privacy notice first.
The app will then ask for permission to use Bluetooth to carry out automatic contact tracing, as well as the ability to receive notifications, should someone you have been near report symptoms or have a positive test returned.
Prompts will appear on-screen asking people to allow the app to access these features.
Next, you will need to provide the first part of your postcode, which is used to show the risk level in your local area.
The main screen will pulse green to show that the app is active.
Along the top you can see the risk level in your local area.
Below there are a series of options to choose from, including venue check-in and report symptoms.
This lets people scan a QR code rather than manually providing contact tracing details.
Elsewhere, users can tap ‘About’ at the top of the main screen to see a list of the places they have checked in. There is also the option to delete all data here.
Here people can tap the symptoms they have and indicate when these started appearing.
It will then advise you to isolate and a countdown will commence based on the date provided.
A button at the bottom directs people to the Government website where they can then book a test. The results will be sent in the usual way via email or text message, but also within the app.
After doing this, the green pulsing on the home screen of the app will change to red and show you how many days of isolation you have left.
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