New Delhi (NVI): The British government today finally launched a COVID-19 smartphone app for England and Wales, allowing users to trace contacts, check the local level of risk and record visits to venues such as pubs, four months after the technology was promised to the public.
The NHS COVID-19 app comes as Britain braces for a second wave of infections, with daily cases rising at rates not seen since the peak of the pandemic and a testing system unable to cope with demand in many areas.
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, according to media reports.
The COVID-19 app from the National Health Service (NHS) uses Bluetooth technology to alert users if they spend 15 minutes or more within two metres (six feet) of another user who subsequently tests positive for COVID-19.
The app generates a random ID for each user to protect privacy, and matches cases on the device rather than on a central server, as was the case in the first iteration.
It will also enable users to book a COVID-19 test subject to availability, check symptoms, and register at venues using a QR-type bar code displayed by businesses.
Furthermore, the Scottish government launched its own app earlier this month, while Northern Ireland rolled out its smartphone tracing tool in August.