A new contact tracing app designed to minimise the spread of COVID-19 will be piloted on the Isle of Wight this week, as part of the government’s plan to move towards reducing lockdown measures.
Everyone on the island will receive access to the official NHS COVID-19 contact tracing app from this Thursday, with NHS and council staff able to download from 4pm today, Tuesday 5 May.
All households will receive a leaflet with instructions on how to download the app, with a targeted marketing campaign starting on Friday.
Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said the technology, combined with “heroic frontline health and social care staff” will ensure that the UK “remains in the best position” to move towards easing the lockdown measures.
Part of a new test, track and trace programme, the app will work together with contact tracing services and swab testing for those with potential COVID-19 symptoms to help minimise the spread of COVID-19.
Developed by NHSX, and a team of scientists and doctors, the app is designed to speed up contact tracing, helping reduce the chance of the virus spreading by identifying people most at risk of infection so they can take action to protect themselves and their loved ones.
When someone reports symptoms through the app, it will detect any other app users that the person has been in significant contact with over the past few days, including unknown contacts such as someone they may have sat next to on public transport.
The app will be able to anonymously alert these contacts and provide advice, including how to get a test to confirm whether or not they do have COVID19. Users will also be able order tests through the app shortly, the government said.
Isle of Wight Council leader, Dave Stewart welcomed the launch, adding: “I have always been keen to ensure we keep our special community safe from the virus but at the same time explore ways to enable us to get back up on our feet and move forward from it. This scheme offers the tightly controlled approach we need to help us do just that.
“I am sure Islanders will rise to the challenge and help avoid post lockdown spread of the virus and keep people as safe as possible.”
As the test, track and trace programme rolls out nationally, expected in mid-May, Public Health England will oversee the deployment of 18,000 additional contact tracers to support the programme.
Hancock said: “The Isle of Wight is playing a vital role with this pioneering work to help keep Britain safe. This will pave the way for a nationwide roll-out when the time is right.
“Coronavirus is one of the greatest challenges our country has ever faced and this app will play a vital role in getting Britain back on her feet.
“The app will help control the spread of coronavirus by alerting people they may have come into contact with it and recommending appropriate action.”