Covid app will launch in less than two weeks across England and Wales

11 September 2020, 13:23 | Updated: 11 September 2020, 13:34

The contact tracing app will launch in two weeks
The contact tracing app will launch in two weeks. Picture: PA

By Joe Cook

The long awaited coronavirus contact tracing app will be launched across England and Wales on September 24, the Department of Health and Social Care has announced.

The app, which has been piloted in the Isle of White and the London Borough of Newham, has found to be “highly effective when used alongside traditional contact tracing to identify contacts of those who have tested positive for coronavirus", the Department said.

The app will use bluetooth technology to detect if someone has been in close contact with a person who is later diagnosed with coronavirus.

A separate app released by the Scottish government has already been downloaded by over 600,000 people, since going live on Thursday.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock described the app's launch in England and Wales as "a defining moment" and said it will help to contain the virus "at a critical time".

The UK government was forced to abandon its in-house Covid app, in a U-turn that cost the taxpayer almost £12 million, after testing in the Isle of White found it did not recognise most people with iPhones.

The new app instead uses a decentralised model created by Google and Apple, which should allay those who had privacy concerns with the government’s initial centralised app.

It will also contain a built in QR scanner, allowing users to quickly and easily check into restaurants and bars.

In an effort to increase the effectiveness of NHS Track and Trace, the government announced this week that all indoor social venues are now legally required to request test and trace information from customers and keep this information for 21 days.

The Health Secretary said: “Hospitality businesses can now download posters for their premises ahead of the launch of the NHS Covid-19 app. This will allow the public to seamlessly check in to venues using the app when it launches.

"It is vital we are using the NHS Test and Trace system to reach as many people as possible to prevent outbreaks and stop this virus in its tracks. This function will make it simple and easy so we can keep this virus under control."