COVID-19 Smartphone App Launches in England and Wales

England and Wales launched an app for tracking and tracing the coronavirus on Thursday

    2020/09/25

NSFW    LONDON — England and Wales launched an app for tracking and tracing the coronavirus on Thursday, September 24, BBC News reports.

The NHS COVID-19 app is available for smartphones running Android 6.0 or iOS 13.5 and Bluetooth 4.0 or higher. It is not available for tablets or other devices.

It can be downloaded from the Google Play or Apple's App Store.

When two phones running the app are close to each other, they exchange anonymous Bluetooth keys. The distance and duration of the contact is measured in five-minute intervals.

The NHS app will regularly check a database of anonymous keys for nearby positive tests. If someone tests positive, they will be given a unique PIN which they can enter into their phone to register the test result. If an app user is assessed as having been in a "high-risk encounter" with someone who tested positive, they will be notified and asked to self-isolate.

However, the system is not perfect. The New Statesman reports that during testing, 45 percent of warnings were false positives. While one third of users who were in close proximity to a coronavirus case were not notified.
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