What is the contact tracing app, and how do I download it? – The Sun


LOCKDOWN restrictions could soon begin to ease – and human guinea pigs are supporting the fight to return to normality by testing out the new NHS coronavirus contact-tracing app.

Officials hope the pioneering tech will help the UK overcome the deadly virus – and experts believe high uptake will ensure fresh outbreaks are quickly snuffed out, preventing a second deadly peak.

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A trial of the voluntary app – provisionally called “NHS – Covid-19” – has started on the Isle of Wight.

A national roll-out is expected in mid-May, when it can be downloaded for free.

Experts say daily infections would still have to fall further – ideally below 1,000 – before it could work effectively across Britain. But England's excess death rate is one of the worst in Europe, new figures show.

The government is hiring a team of 18,000 to trace the contacts of anyone infected with the virus.

What is contact tracing?

Contact tracing is a method used by scientists to slow the spread of infectious outbreaks.

During the pandemic, anyone sufferers might have been in prolonged contact with will be traced.

Those contacts may then be asked to self-isolate.

However, there's some disagreement about what 'close contact' might look like.

The Government recommends staying two metres away from others – but the World Health Organisation advises people to stay a metre apart.

The app will capture just distance, rather than time spent with a person and the setting.

Contact tracing is already being used in Hong Kong, Singapore and Germany.

How the new app works

The app will work by using Bluetooth to log when another user’s smartphone has been in close proximity.

If a person develops Covid-19 symptoms, they can report their symptoms to the app and immediately organise a test.

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The tech automatically sends out an anonymous alert to other users they may have infected, urging them to self-isolate if necessary – thus stopping further spread.

They will then have the ability to book a coronavirus test.

Experts estimate if 60 per cent of Brits used the app on their phone, then future outbreaks could be prevented.

Could this be our way out of lockdown?

Contact tracing was important when it came to lifting restrictions in other countries, but only when combined with other measures.

South Korea never went into lockdown thanks to an early strategy of extensive tracing, combined with mass testing.

If adopted widely enough, contact tracing might help ease UK restrictions.

The UK government first attempted contact tracing early on in the outbreak, before there were too many cases for it to be effective.


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