Corona tracking app – ‘tech can help get the country back on its feet’

By Nicholas Robinson contact

- Last updated on GMT

Movements measured: could a tracking app help lift the UK out of lockdown?
Movements measured: could a tracking app help lift the UK out of lockdown?

Related tags: Coronavirus

The Government’s trial of a new coronavirus tracking app, which is being trialled in the Isle of Wight, could be the first step towards some sort of normality, healthcare experts and cabinet ministers have claimed.

While the country remains in full lockdown for the immediate future, a glimmer of hope for Brits and businesses across the UK could come from the Government’s newly revealed NHS Covid-19​ app, which has been created as part of the country’s ‘test, track and trace’ programme to gain further control over the spread of the pandemic.

It is not yet known how the lockdown will be lifted, but Government heads have indicated the new app will play a big part in returning the country to more normal circumstances.

Reports in the national press this week have so far suggested clarity on the future of businesses and movement of people in the UK will be given on Sunday 10 May, with the expectation being the current lockdown rules will be altered drastically.

The ambition of the test and trace scheme – along with the app – is to enable the UK to start to come out of some elements of lockdown, which would be a gradual process, the Government said.

Face harsh measures

However, although there is no certainty, it is also believed the pub and hospitality sector will continue to face harsh measures and remain closed for the foreseeable future, being among the last businesses allowed to reopen.

It is expected, once trials on the Isle of Wight are completed, the app will be rolled out across the UK, with Brits encouraged to download and use it.

In essence, the app will use Bluetooth on smartphones to track the movement of the public and their contact with others.

If someone using the app has coronavirus symptoms, they follow instructions on the system, which will then alert others they have come into contact and proceed to instruct them on the next steps.

It is claimed the system is anonymous and that any data collected by the app will not be shared beyond the NHS, while users will not be able to learn any information about anyone who has displayed symptoms.

The greatest challenges

Health and social care secretary Matt Hancock said: “Coronavirus is one of the greatest challenges our country has ever faced and this app will play a vital role in getting Britain back on her feet.

“The app will help control the spread of coronavirus by alerting people they may have come into contact with it and recommending appropriate action.

“This ground-breaking technology, combined with our heroic front-line health and social care staff, will ensure we remain in the best position to move toward easing the lockdown.”

Matthew Gould, chief executive of NHSX – the health service’s technology arm – echoed Hancock, stating that technology would help to get the country back up and running.

“By launching the NHS Covid-19​ app, we can reduce transmission of the virus by alerting people who may have been exposed, so they can take action to protect themselves, the people they care about and the NHS,” he said.

Related topics: Health & safety, UnitedWeStand

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