New NHS COVID-19 contact tracing app coming to England and Wales

The NHS is launching an official UK COVID-19 contact tracing app across England and Wales.

The app is now available in Google Play and the Apple App Store.

The app, which is based on Bluetooth technology, identifies those who have found themselves in the vicinity of someone who is displaying symptoms of the disease.

If you are one of the unfortunate individuals and you have the app installed, you will receive an alert with instructions to self-isolate for 14 days.

The app also helps you to book a free COVID-19 test.

In addition, the app allows you to scan QR codes upon checking into a venue.

This will let you know whether someone with COVID-19 symptoms was there recently.

Certain businesses in the UK will be required to display QR codes by law, with more than 160,000 of them already doing so.

The question remains, why has it taken the UK so long to come up with such an app?

Initially, the NHS attempted to design an app on its own, but its architecture was abandoned later on in favour of already established solutions developed by Apple and Google.

The new contact tracing app entered trials in August.

It works on the basis of generating a random ID and exchanging it with another device that is running the app in the user’s proximity.

This anonymised code is kept on the device for 14 days until it expires.

During installation, users will be asked to input the first half of their postcode, allowing the accurate pinpointing of a COVID-19 outbreak, should one emerge.

For optimal functioning, the app needs to be running all the time and Bluetooth functionality must be switched on.

Users have the right to request information on what data the app is storing about them, and deleting this will wipe it clean.