NHS Covid-19 App launched today

Thursday, September 24, 2020

The long awaited NHS Covid-19 app launched today and people in England and Wales over the age of 16 are being urged to download the contact tracing app following it’s official release.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the app "helps us to find more people who are at risk of having the virus" that human contact tracers are unable to find. "Everybody who downloads the app will be helping to protect themselves, helping to protect their loved ones, helping to protect their community because the more people who download it, the more effective it will be," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

It has a number of features:

  • Trace: find out when you've been near other app users who have tested positive for coronavirus.
  • Alert: lets you know the level of coronavirus risk in your postcode district.
  • Check-in: get alerted if you've visited a venue where you may have come into contact with coronavirus, using a simple QR code scanner.
  • Symptoms: check if you have coronavirus symptoms and see if you need to order a test.
  • Test: helps you order a test if you need to.
  • Isolate: keep track of your self-isolation countdown and access relevant advice.

It also has a check-in scanner to alert owners if a venue you have visited is found to be an outbreak hotspot.

The NHS Covid-19 will instruct users to self-isolate for 14 days if it detects you were nearby someone who has the virus.

The app runs on proven software developed by Apple and Google, designed so that nobody will know who or where you are. And you can delete your data, or the app, at any time. It also keeps secret who receives a self-isolation alert.

There has been some confusion about whether users could ignore a notification telling them to say at home and therefore be liable for £1,000 fines however a senior source has since told the BBC that the notification is "advisory" because the authorities cannot legally enforce something that cannot be proved.

The NHS COVID-19 app is free to download from the App Store and Google Play.

For those of you with privacy concerns, the NHS Covid-19 app uses Apple and Google's API, not the Governments so if you have aready installed their operating system then this makes app make no difference to your privacy.