The NHS CV19 app being developed to support the Government's ‘test, track and trace’ programme to curb transmission will provide an automated system for rapid symptom reporting, ordering of swab tests, and sending tailored and targeted alerts to other app users who have had close contact.
The Government announced over the weekend that the app is to be tested in the Isle of Wight later this week. Experts have suggested that over 60 per cent of the population will have to download and use the app for it to be effective.
Once a member of the public installs the app, it will start logging the distance between their phone and other phones nearby that also have the app installed, using Bluetooth. This anonymous log of how close they are to others will be stored securely on their phone.
If they become unwell with symptoms of Covid-19, they can choose to allow the app to inform the NHS which, subject to a risk analysis, will trigger an anonymous alert to those other app users with whom they came into significant contact over the previous few days.
The app will advise contacts what action to take if they have been close to someone who has become symptomatic – including advising them to self-isolate if necessary.
Public Health England is working with the Department of Health and NHSX on an integrated approach to contact tracing which includes the use of both the PHE web-based Contact Tracing and Advisory Service (CTAS) and phone-based contact tracing, which complements the NHSCV19 app.
Around 18,000 staff - 3,000 public health and clinical professionals and 15,000 call handlers – are being recruited to undertake the phone-based contact tracing with both the cases and contacts. PHE is planning on the basis that the service will ramp up quickly.
The phone-based contact tracing service will work with people for whom digital channels are not appropriate or possible and includes a service for people whose first language is not English.