New NHS Test and Trace app is launched today - The Leamington Observer

New NHS Test and Trace app is launched today

Leamington Editorial 13th Aug, 2020   0

Trials on a new NHS Test and Trace app have started today with residents on the Isle of Wight and NHS Volunteer Responders across England, followed shortly by residents in the London borough of Newham.

The NHS Test and Trace app has been designed to work alongside traditional contact tracing services and testing, to help people to understand if they are at risk of infection so they can take action to protect themselves and their communities and it is hoped it will soon be rolled out across the country.

It uses the latest in security technology and is designed with user privacy in mind so according to it’s designers, it tracks the virus, not people. 

England’s NHS Test and Trace programme has worked closely with major tech companies, including Google and Apple, scientists within the Alan Turing Institute, medical experts, privacy groups, at-risk communities and teams in countries across the world such as Germany using similar apps, to develop a state-of-the-art app that is safe, simple and secure.

It will log the time and distance a user has spent near to anyone, even if they don’t know them, so it can alert them if necessary if that person later tests positive for COVID-19, and help them easily book a free test, and quickly get their results.

This is a useful addition to the existing NHS Test and Trace service because it will mean you do not need to know the contact details of people for the service to warn them they have been in contact with someone who has tested positive. This means the service can reach more people and further prevent the spread of the virus. This will become more important as people are beginning to return to their normal lives as much as possible, getting on public transport, seeing friends and going to restaurants.

It uses the latest in security technology to protect people’s privacy. The system generates a random ID for an individual’s device, which can be exchanged between devices to monitor the spread of the virus while rotating frequently to prevent tracking.

Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock says: “It’s essential we get the country moving again so people can get back to doing what they love. Our statistics show more people with symptoms are getting tested and NHS Test and Trace reaches the vast majority of people testing positive, and their contacts. We are seeing a significant rise in the number of people with symptoms getting tested, and 90% of people who turn up to be tested get their results by the next day.

“We’ve worked with tech companies, international partners, privacy and medical experts to develop an app that is simple to use, secure and will help keep the country safe.

“We are hugely grateful to everyone playing their part to rigorously test the new app and provide the foundation for a national roll-out.”

Dido Harding, Executive Chair of the NHS Test and Trace Programme adds: “It’s really important that we make it as easy as possible for everyone to engage with NHS Test and Trace.

“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.

“There is no silver bullet when it comes to tackling coronavirus. The app is a great step forward and will complement all of the work we are doing with local areas across the country to reach more people in their communities and work towards our vision of helping more people get back to the most normal life possible at the lowest risk.”

Simon Thompson, Managing Director of the NHS Test and Trace App says: “NHS Test and Trace is vital to controlling the spread of coronavirus and this app is designed to give people maximum freedom at minimum risk.

“We have worked with some of the most innovative organisations in the World, such as Apple, Google, scientists from the Alan Turing Institute and Oxford University and governments across the world to come up with a state-of-the-art product which works to protect people everyday. It’s like NHS Test and Trace in your pocket.”

The app has a range of additional, enhanced features that will help to reduce personal and public risk from COVID-19 as part of the end-to-end NHS Test and Trace service:

  • Alert: letting users know the level of coronavirus risk in their postcode district.
  • QR check-in: alerting users if they have recently visited a venue where they may have come into contact with someone who later tests positive with COVID-19.
  • Symptoms: allowing users to check if they have coronavirus symptoms and see if they need to order a free test all in one place.
  • Test: helping users book a free test through the app and get results quickly to know whether they have COVID-19.
  • Isolate: if a user is told to self-isolate, a timer feature will help count down that period and access will be provided to relevant advice.

Starting this week, residents on the Isle of Wight and NHS volunteers will receive unique codes via email and post to give them early access to download the app, with residents in Newham, London, getting theirs soon after.

Mayor of Newham, Rokhsana Fiaz says: “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.

“With the threat of COVID-19 still with us, it’s vital we support our residents to keep safe and help others. The app is a welcomed addition to all the measures that our public health team have put in place working closely with our local health partners.

“With its easy to use features, the app will be available in different languages and comes with the assurance that personal data stays with the user so that people’s privacy is protected.

“By taking part in this early phase to trial the app before its national roll-out, we’ll be working closely with all sections of our diverse community through our COVID-19 Health Champions network and neighbourhood outreach teams, building on our innovation in creating a unique array of resources to support our community through this unprecedented time of challenge.”

When someone reports symptoms through the app, it will detect any other app users that the person has been in significant contact with over the past few days, including unknown contacts such as someone they may have sat next to on public transport. The app will be able to anonymously alert these contacts and provide advice, including how to get a test to confirm whether or not they do have COVID-19.

For those who may not have access to the app, or the ability to use a smartphone, there will be an option to report symptoms and order tests in other ways. Everyone who reports symptoms, including app users, will also be asked to record recent contacts using an online service (or through a telephone interview if they prefer), so that contact tracers can reach all contacts who may be at risk, whether or not those contacts are app users. Contacts will then be alerted either by the app or by email or telephone, advising them to self-isolate or offering public health advice.

The NHS Test and Trace app designers say it is designed to the highest standards of data privacy and data security. It will not track individuals and does not hold personal information such as name, address or date of birth. For some features, the app may require more information from the user (for example, if you are booking a test) but only if the user gives their explicit consent.

You can find out more by watching the app demo video here.


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