KUALA LUMPUR, April 13 – The UK government has released an app to assist contact tracing in an attempt to amp up its fight against the coronavirus, which has taken more than 10,000 lives in the country as of April 11.
“Today I wanted to outline the next step: a new National Health Service (NHS) app for contact tracing,” UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock was quoted saying, according to Forbes.
“If you become unwell with the symptoms of coronavirus, you can securely tell this new NHS app and the app will then send an alert anonymously to other app users that you’ve been in significant contact with over the past few days, even before you had symptoms, so that they know and can act accordingly.”
The app will record contacts of users to other users and if alerts on self-isolation will be sent if necessary.
NHSX, the technological branch of the NHS, is working on the project with partnerships of Apple and Google, as well as with clinical safety and digital ethics specialists.
“The more people who get involved then the better informed our response to coronavirus will be and the better we can protect the NHS,” Hancock explained.
According to studies, the app must be downloaded and used by 60 per cent of British adults in order for it to be successful.
Issues of user privacy have also been raised as the app will be using Bluetooth to record users’ locations and movements.
“All data will be handled according to the highest ethical and security standards and only used for NHS care and research, and we won’t hold it any longer than it’s needed. And as part of our commitment to transparency we’ll be publishing the source code, too,” Hancock added.
“We’re already testing this app and as we do this, we’re working closely with the world’s leading tech companies and renowned experts in digital safety and ethics.”
The app is expected to be ready in a few weeks.
As of yesterday, the UK has recorded 84,279 positive cases and 10,612 deaths due to the fatal virus. Its prime minister, Boris Johnson, was just discharged from the hospital after undergoing treatment for Covid-19 in its intensive care unit.