May 05, 2020
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The NHS Covid-19 App Has Launched. Heres How It Works
A coronavirus contact tracing app has launched on a trial basis in the UK, using people’s mobile phones to detect who they’ve been in close proximity to.
The NHS app, which has been created as part of the “test, track and trace” programme, will enable the government to take a “more targeted approach” to the lockdown, said Matt Hancock.
It’s hoped the results may enable officials to relax some of the lockdown measures, while still containing the disease. It follows the launch of similar Covid-19 apps elsewhere in Europe. Related... Why It Takes So Long To Make A Coronavirus Vaccine So, how does it work? The NHS app is designed to trace how the virus is spreading from person to person – and stop it in its tracks. 
It works by using Bluetooth signals to track who an individual comes into contact with on a daily basis. When two phones with Bluetooth enabled come into close contact, this is logged by the app. In some reports, this process is  being referred to as a “Bluetooth handshake”. 
If one of those phone users then develops symptoms of Covid-19, they can log this in the app. People who have been in contact with that person then receive a notification, telling them of their potential exposure and instructing them to self-isolate for 14 days. The NHS said the Covid-19 app is part of a wider approach that includes “manual and web-based contact tracing coupled with virology swab testing”. But wait, isn’t there already a UK Covid-19 app?  Correct, the new app shouldn’t be confused with the King’s College London Covid-19 Symptom Tracker app, which is still being used by researchers to learn more about the virus.
The King’s College app encourages users to self-report coronavirus symptoms every day and answer a couple of quick health questions – even if they’re feeling well. The app aims to figure out where the high-risk areas are in the UK, who is most at risk, and how fast the virus is spreading in specific areas. Anyone can download the King’s College app.  So, who can download the new NHS app?  NHS and council staff on the Isle of Wight are being urged to download the NHS Covid-19 smartphone app from Tuesday. The rest of the island’s population will receive a letter from Thursday, inviting them to join the trial. If successful, the app will be rolled out across the UK later this month. 
Health Secretary Matt Hancock urged everyone on the Isle of Wight who’s able to download the app to do so. “I know that the people of the Isle of Wight will embrace this with enthusiasm because by embarking on this project and by embracing test, track and trace, you will be saving lives,” he said.Are there any privacy issues? Concerns have been raised around the collection and storage of data in relation to the app. Amnesty International UK director Kate Allen believes the government should look at decentralised app models, where contact-tracing data stays on a user’s device.
“We’re extremely concerned the government may be planning to route private data through a central database, opening the door to pervasive state surveillance and privacy infringement, with potentially discriminatory effects,” she said.
MP Marcus Fysh also highlighted that it’s essential the system remains voluntary for the public. 
Addressing these issues, a statement on the NHS website insists the app has been created with privacy in mind. “The app does not collect personally identifiable data from users. Users will always remain anonymous. The anonymous data collected by the NHS Covid-19 app will only ever be used for NHS care, management, evaluation and research,” it says.
“Users will always be able to delete the NHS Covid-19 app whenever they want. We will always comply with the law around the use of data, including the Data Protection Act, and we will explain how we intend to use the data.” READ MORE: 'I Feel Helpless': People Are In Agony And Resorting To 'DIY Dentistry' In Lockdown What You Need To Know About Homemade Face Masks What Is The Coronavirus 'Antibody Test' – And How Will It Work?
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Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered coronavirus.

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