The NHS Test and Trace service will launch its new contact tracing app this week. The app’s arrival comes after months of waiting, after Prime Minister Boris Johnson pledged to launch a “world-beating” test and trace system several months ago. The new contact tracing app comes as the UK prepares for winter amid rising numbers of coronavirus cases.
Baroness Dido Harding, executive chair of England’s NHS Test and Trace Programme, said: “We want to make it as easy as possible for everyone to engage with England’s NHS Test and Trace service.
“The NHS COVID-19 app enables the majority of people with a smartphone to find out if they are at risk of having caught the virus and need to self isolate, order a test if they have symptoms, and access the right guidance and advice.
“The features of this app, including QR code check-in at venues, work alongside our traditional contact tracing service and will help us to reach more people quickly in their communities to prevent further spread of the virus.
“This is a welcome step in protecting those around us.”
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How does the new contact tracing app work?
Using an Apple and Google-developed system, the new contact tracing app uses Bluetooth in order to keep an anonymous log of people the app user has been in close contact with.
The app does this by exchanging randomised keys, while the Bluetooth signal strength measures proximity.
If a user of the app falls ill or tests positive for COVID-19, they can inform the app.
The app will then transfer the user’s keys to a central server.
“With infection rates rising we must use every tool at our disposal to prevent transmission, including the latest technology.
“We have worked extensively with tech companies, international partners, and privacy and medical experts – and learned from the trials – to develop an app that is secure, simple to use and will help keep our country safe.
“Today’s launch marks an important step forward in our fight against this invisible killer and I urge everyone who can to download and use the app to protect themselves and their loved ones.”
The new app has been launched with the slogan of “Protect your loved ones. Get the app.”