Today, people in Hull can download the NHS COVID-19 app following a nationwide launch. The app is designed to limit the spread of Coronavirus and make it easier to find and alert those an infected person has been in contact with. Part of NHS Test and Trace, the app has been trialled in the London Borough of Newham, the Isle of Wight and by NHS Volunteer Responders.
Julia Weldon, Director of Public Health at Hull City Council, said: “The app is the latest tool the government has made available to support preventing the spread of Coronavirus. Because of the way the app works, the more of us who download it, the more effective it is. It relies on information being shared as widely as possible and the trails have proved very effective when used alongside existing contact tracing methods.
“Getting a test if we are symptomatic and isolating when informed we have been in contact with someone with Coronavirus remains the most important thing we can all do. By isolating, we protect our loved ones as well as those in our communities we may never have met, including those who are more vulnerable.
“The situation locally and nationally is once again evolving very quickly and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed, but this is one simple thing we can all do. The information from the app could help us further understand how the virus is spreading so we can act to contain it.
“Those who developed the app have reassured users that the app is designed to the highest standards of data privacy and data security. It does not collect personal information, uses low-energy Bluetooth (not GPS), and only requires the first half of your postcode”.
Key functions of the app are:
- Alert: when users first download the app they will be asked to input the first half of their postcode. This allows them to see the level of risk associated with their area, to help them decide how to manage their interactions
- Symptom checker: if people feel unwell they can use the symptom checker to see if symptoms could be related to coronavirus
- Test: If, based on information from the symptom checker, it appears a user may have coronavirus, they will be taken to a website where they could book a test at one of Hull’s test centres
- Trace: the app uses low level Bluetooth technology to keep a log of how long users are at close proximity to each other (which is measured based on the strength of the signal). If a person who presented symptoms comes back with a positive test – the app will ask their permission to notify other phones who have been identified as being at close proximity to theirs. Those users will then receive an annonymised exposure alert with advice on what to do next. The app does not have access to phone contacts or any other personal information held on users’ phones. This includes names, contacts, email addresses or phone numbers
- Check-in: users can record a visit to a venue by ‘checking-in’ on arrival, using the venue’s QR code which should be displayed at the entrance
- Isolate: if a user tests positive, they will be given advice on next steps and guidance on self-isolation timelines
Find more information, including FAQS online: covid19.nhs.uk.