Health Secretary Matt Hancock has revealed the National Health Service is working on an app that can help track the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus that has infected a million people worldwide and killed over 100,000.
“If you become unwell with the symptoms of coronavirus, you can securely tell this new NHS app, and the app will then send an alert anonymously to other app users that you8217;ve been in significant contact with over the past few days, even before you had symptoms so that they know and can act accordingly,” explained Hancock during a UK daily pandemic briefing on 12 April.
Here8217;s everything you need to know about the NHS contact-tracing app, including when you can get it on your mobile device.
The app will work by letting users self-report if they’re experiencing symptoms of the virus. Doing so will then notify other users 8211; with a yellow warning 8211; if they’ve been in contact with an infected user. If a user tests positive for COVID-19, they will be given a code to enter into the app, triggering a red alert to others that they were exposed and may need to quarantine.
According to The Sunday Times, the NHSX, the digital innovation branch within the NHS, plans to test an early version of the NHS contact-tracing app in the North of England starting the week of 13 April. Google and Apple will be releasing an API in May that makes it easier for others to build contact tracing apps, and the NHSX plans to integrate that technology into the app as well.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock addressed privacy concerns over the NHS contact-tracing app, by explaining it8217;ll be completely voluntary to use. The NHS also won8217;t keep the data from the app any longer than necessary. 8220;All data will be handled according to the highest ethical and security standards, and would only be used for NHS care and research,” he said.
The app uses Bluetooth signals to keep track of handsets and crowdsource and relay data. No names will be given under any circumstance; only information about proximity to the virus and whether other users are experiencing symptoms.