Coronavirus smartphone app launched in England

LONDON (Reuters): England and Wales have launched a coronavirus smartphone app.

This app will allow users to trace contacts, check the local level of risk, and record visits to venues. The NHS COVID-19 app comes as Britain braces for the second wave of infections, with daily cases numbers rising at rates not seen since the peak of the pandemic.

The government had said a COVID-19 app would arrive in May, but early trials were dogged by problems, and developers abandoned home-grown technology in favour of Apple and Google’s model in June.

The government downplayed the importance of smartphones in fighting COVID-19, saying that rather than an app is central to the test and trace system.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock, however, said that with infection rates rising, every tool available must be used to prevent transmission, including the latest technology.

“We have worked extensively with tech companies, international partners, and privacy and medical experts and learned from the trials to develop an app that is secure, simple to use, and will help keep our country safe,” he said.

The app uses Bluetooth signals to log when a user is in close contact with another user, generally meaning within two metres for 15 minutes or more. 

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