Tuesday 9 June 2020 1:02 pm

Track and trace app ‘ready in weeks’

The NHS track and trace app will be ready in time for the next stage of lockdown easing next month, according to reports.

Whitehall sources suggested that an upgraded version of the trial app used on the Isle of Wight was almost ready, the Times reported.

The app had been due to launch alongside the government’s track, test and trace programme at the end of last month, but was delayed because of software issues.

An earlier version of the app was trialled on the Isle of Wight, where it was rolled out on 7 May.

The app was criticised for being rudimentary as it only probed users about two symptoms — a high temperature and continuous cough — and did not allow them to enter a positive or negative coronavirus test result. 

Read more: NHS coronavirus track and trace programme could help ease UK’s 14-day quarantine

It comes in the face of stiff criticism that the UK’s track and trace system has been insufficient in helping stem the spread of the virus. NHS contact tracers have complained of chaotic training and lack of work. 

Scientific advisory group Independent Sage today highlighted “multiple flaws” in the UK’s Test, Track and Trace system. In a new report the group raised concerns that the smartphone app, which uses Bluetooth to share data across phones, might be vulnerable to “fraudulent use”. 

Independent Sage also warned of the possible dangers of sharing personal data with an app that has been developed by a private company. 

Officials have insisted that the next stage of lockdown easing in early July is not dependent on the app, however the Department for Health is keen to launch it to coincide with the opening of pubs and restaurants, the Times reported. 

The need for a comprehensive tracing system will become more urgent when people return work and public transport. 

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said he believes the app will play a big role n the UK’s long-term strategy in tackling coronavirus and may be used in the future to guide local lockdowns. 

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