App launched today in the fight against Covid-19

App launched today in the fight against Covid-19

App launched today in the fight against Covid-19

The NHS has launched its coronavirus Test and Trace app in England and Wales today after months of delays and technical issues.

Anyone aged 16 and over is now being asked to install the app on to their smartphone following its official release.

NHS Covid-19 instructs users to self-isolate for 14 days if it detects they were nearby someone who has the virus.

The app is available for smartphones only – not tablets, smartwatches or other devices.

To get started, go to Android’s Google Play or Apple’s App Store and search for “NHS Covid-19”.

It uses an Apple and Google-developed system, using Bluetooth to keep an anonymous log of people a user has been close to.

It does this by exchanging randomised keys while the Bluetooth signal strength measures proximity.

If someone falls ill, they can tell the app, which will then ping their keys to a central server and in turn send them off to all app users in search of a match.

Should the system determine a person as a close contact, they will be automatically sent a notification and issued with further guidance.

The notification will tell the recipient to go into self-isolation for a fortnight – and trigger the start of the app’s countdown clock.
Even if the recipient has no symptoms or a subsequent negative test result, they must stay at home for the duration.

Unlike when a human contact tracer orders someone to self-isolate, the app keeps the subject’s identity a secret.

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

The handsets must have Android 6.0 (released in 2015) or iOS 13.5 (released in May 2020) and Bluetooth 4.0 or higher. That excludes the iPhone 6 and older versions of Apple’s handsets, and some of the latest Huawei handsets are excluded.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the app was a “helpful tool” in the fight against Covid-19.

The launch comes as the UK reported 6,178 coronavirus cases on Wednesday, up 1,252 since Tuesday, and 37 deaths. This was the highest daily toll of cases since May.

Residents on the Isle of Wight and in the London borough of Newham have been trialling the latest version since mid-August.

The latest restrictions will come into effect today, including a 10pm hospitality curfew and extending the compulsory use of face coverings for hospitality and retail staff.

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