Isle of Wight will trial new version of UK's coronavirus contact tracing app after first one flopped

ANOTHER version of the failed coronavirus contact tracing app will be trialed on the Isle of Wight after the first attempt flopped.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock ditched plans to develop an app specifically for the UK and has now latched on to contact tracing tech created by Apple and Google instead.

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The app will be piloted from today in the Isle of Wight – the location of the original pilot test of a contact tracing app – and the London borough of Newham.

The aim of the app is to ensure people who have been in contact with a case of coronavirus, but do not know them, to be able to be tracked down and isolated in case they develop symptoms.

It will log the time and distance a user has spent near to anyone, even if they don't know them, so it can alert them if necessary if that person later tests positive for Covid-19.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock had pledged the "ground-breaking" and "world-beating" app would be ready by mid-May.

Officials have blamed delays on the launch of the app on its ability to measure exact distances between phones.

But they are now confident those glitches have been ironed out.

The software works by using Bluetooth to log when another user’s smartphone has been in close proximity.

A confirmed case can report their status to the app, which automatically sends out an anonymous alert to other users they may have infected urging them to self-isolate and get a free test – thus stopping further spread.

Test and Trace head Baroness Dido Harding has described the app as "the cherry on the cake" and refused to give a date for the release of the app.

But people working on the project said it is still expected to be released this year, according to Sky news.

NHS England is hoping to add "personal benefits" to the app to help encourage people to download it.

The features include "Fitbit-style" alerts letting people know whether they might be at risk of being infected with coronavirus.

They also want to roll out check-ins at venues with QR codes, according to a person involved with the project.

The QR feature would mean if a person went to a coffee shop and scanned to say they had been there, they could later be easily contacted if there was an outbreak.

One person described the alerts to look like: "We noticed you checked into Pret the other day. There's been an outbreak, please stay inside for a couple of weeks."

But this could lead to a clash with Apple, who have already denied another country's request to add a QR feature.

Officials at NHS England's innovation unit, NHSX, believe this could get more people to download the app after a series of delays and failures.

The botched app cost the taxpayer £12 million.

The Government has overhauled its test & trace program and fired 6,000 contact tracers brought on earlier this year.

It comes after warnings the UK needs to get its contact tracing numbers up to catching 75 per cent of cases from 50 per cent in order to avoid a second wave.

 

 

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