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14.08.20

New NHS Test and Trace app trial begins on Isle of Wight

As efforts to contain and track the coronavirus continue, NHS Test and Trace are set to begin the trial phase of a new contact tracing app with residents on the Isle of Wight and NHS Volunteer Responders across England.

These trials will shortly be followed by trials in the London borough of Newham.

With app features including alerts based on postcode, QR check-in at venues, symptom checker and test booking functions, it is hoped the new app will help minimise the spread of coronavirus alongside national and local contact tracing efforts.

Developed to work alongside these traditional contact tracing services and testing, the new NHS Test and Trace app will look to help people understand if they are at risk so they can take action and steps to protect themselves and their communities.

In particular, addressing some of the concerns and hesitations of the previous iteration of the NHS contact tracing app, the new digital tool has reportedly been developed using the latest in security technology and is designed with user privacy in mind, aiming to track only the virus rather than people. In creating the app, NHS Test and Trace have worked closely with a wide range of experts including major technology companies, scientists with the Alan Turing Institute, medical experts, privacy groups, at-risk communities and international teams from countries using similar apps, such as Germany.

As part of the app’s methodology, it will log the time and distance a user has spent near to anyone, even if they don’t know them, in order to alert them if necessary, should that person later test positive for Covid-19 – helping them easily book for a free test and promptly receive their own test results.

READ MORE: Contact tracing reaches 250,000 people through NHS Test and Trace

READ MORE: NHS coronavirus app to enter next phase of development

This functionality is seen as a significant addition to the existing NHS Test and Trace service as it means people do not necessarily need to know the contact details of people for the service to be able to warn others about being in contact with someone who has tested positive for the virus. This means the service can reach more people and further prevent the spread of the virus.

To protect people’s privacy while maintaining this functionality, the app uses state-of-the-art security technology, with a system generating a random ID for an individual’s device, which can be exchanged between devices to monitor the spread of the virus, while rotating frequently to prevent tracking.

Dido Harding, Executive Chair of the NHS Test and Trace Programme, said: “It’s really important that we make it as easy as possible for everyone to engage with NHS Test and Trace.

“By launching an app that supports our integrated, localised approach to NHS Test and Trace, anyone with a smartphone will be able to find out if they are at risk of having caught the virus, quickly and easily order a test, and access the right guidance and advice.”

“There is no silver bullet when it comes to tackling coronavirus.

“The app is a great step forward and will complement all of the work we are doing with local areas across the country to reach more people in their communities and work towards our vision of helping more people get back to the most normal life possible at the lowest risk. I am hugely grateful to the Isle of Wight, Newham and the NHS responders for playing their part.”

Simon Thompson, Managing Director of the NHS Test and Trace App, added: “NHS Test and Trace is vital to controlling the spread of coronavirus and this app is designed to give people maximum freedom at minimum risk.

“We have worked with some of the most innovative organisations in the World, such as Apple, Google, scientists from the Alan Turing Institute and Oxford University and governments across the world to come up with a state-of-the-art product which works to protect people every day. It’s like NHS Test and Trace in your pocket.

“By giving access to the Isle of Wight, Newham and NHS Volunteers first we can make this app even better before rolling out nationwide so the rest of the nation can benefit.”

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