Public Health England asks people to download the app

There is a lot of antipathy towards the idea of downloading an app which many people perceive as an invasion of privacy. To be frank though, what better ideas are out there right now? The reassurances are that privacy is protected (the app is voluntary).

The new NHS COVID-19 app is now available to download. It’s free and it has some clever features that will help stop the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).

Having downloaded it, I can say it only takes the first part of your postcode(e.g., EX23) and does not request any personal details.

It’s to support the NHS Test and Trace service, so its major benefit to the public is in helping to trace people quickly when they’ve been in close contact for a period of time with someone who has tested positive for coronavirus. That way, they can be advised even sooner to self-isolate and take any other appropriate steps.

In Devon and Cornwall, our overall number of positive coronavirus cases is, although rising, still relatively low compared to other parts of the country – and, of course, people from other parts of the country are still visiting the SW. The R number in the UK, indicating how fast the coronavirus epidemic is growing, has risen from 1.1-1.4 to 1.2-1.5.

The NHS Test and Trace service is still just as vital here in helping to trace people as quickly as possible and to prevent the spread of coronavirus. The sooner you know, the sooner you can act and reduce the risk of infection to others.

It works by recording the location of places that you visit – such as pubs, restaurants, cafes, leisure or tourist attractions, ‘close contact’ establishments such as hair dressers, places of worship, and others public places including libraries and village halls – onto your phone.

You’ll get an alert if you’ve visited a place where you’ve had prolonged contact recently with someone who has tested positive with coronavirus, and there’ll be advice about what to do next.

It also provides risk alerts by postcode, a symptom checker and test booking features.

Venues are now legally required to collect contact details from customers and visitors, so if you don’t have a smartphone, they will also have their own log book or other paper method.

In a nutshell:

The app was designed and built by the NHS Test & Trace at DHSC. It now uses the Google and Apple contact tracing technology, and adds a number of additional features whilst protecting your privacy.

Once you have installed the app, you’ll receive an alert if it detects you have been in close contact with other users of the app who have tested positive for coronavirus. This allows you to take action to avoid passing the virus on (by self-isolating).

  • If you’d like to install the app (it’s entirely voluntary), you’ll be helping to slow the transmission of the coronavirus.
  • You can decide if you want to tell the app that you’re suffering from coronavirus symptoms, and request a test.
  • You can use it to check-in at venues using QR codes.
  • Note that the app does not collect any of your personal data. Any information you choose to submit is:

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