The campaign to download the NHS COVID-19 app is now in full swing. So how does the government’s test and trace scheme work and what will downloading the app mean for you?
As many countries have demonstrated, a functioning test and trace system is an integral part of fighting COVID-19. The thinking is simple – the quicker you can identify new cases, the more effectively infectious people can take themselves out of circulation and the quicker you can gain control of the virus. You can play a kind of ‘whack-a-mole’ with new, localised outbreaks, without having to resort to sweeping lockdown measures that affect the whole of society.
On 24th September, the government’s test and trace app was finally launched after months of setbacks. Called NHS COVID-19, the contract tracing app is available across compatible smartphones in England and Wales, for users aged over 16. It is available in 10 languages (English, Welsh, Arabic, Bengali, Gujarati, Punjabi, Mandarin Chinese, Turkish, Urdu and Romanian). Scotland and Northern Ireland have their own apps.
Unlike some other countries, which have made their track and trace systems compulsory, the NHS app is voluntary. Nonetheless, it was downloaded 14 million times in its first week, representing about a third of all possible users.
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