UK contact-tracing app launching ‘within weeks’ as RAF begins trials
The RAF is testing a contact-tracing app which the NHS will launch in the coming weeks, as part of efforts to ease the nationwide lockdown.
The contact-tracing app is part of a wider approach to track and test coronavirus. The government plans to recruit 18,000 people, including 3,000 health workers and specialists, to build and administer the initiative.
Contact tracing is a process that aims to reduce the transmission of the virus by alerting people who may have been exposed so they can take action to protect themselves.
“The more people who sign up for this new app when it goes live, the better informed our response will be and the better we can therefore protect the NHS,” health secretary Matt Hancock said this week.
The app will use Bluetooth signals to log when smartphone owners are close to each other. It sends alert to users if they have come into contact with someone who then develops coronavirus symptoms.
The chief executive of the NHS’ digital innovation unit NHSX, said the contact-tracing app will advise people what action to take if you have been in close proximity to someone who has become symptomatic.
Matthew Gould added that in future releases of the app, people can provide the NHS with extra information about themselves to help identify hotspots.
The NHS is currently testing the contact-tracing app at a Royal Air Force base in North Yorkshire. RAF Leeming set up a scenario designed to simulate people’s experience of going shopping, using Bluetooth low energy signals to log when two phones were near each other.
Earlier today, the government’s coronavirus website ran out of tests for essential workers within minutes.
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