NHS contact tracing app to be ready before July
Business minister Nadhim Zahawi has said that an NHS contact tracing app should be ready to roll out nationwide by the end of June.
The government had hoped that the app, which was trialled on the Isle of Wight, would be ready by mid-May, but it has been subject to delays due to a need for further trialling.
Track and trace systems have already been launched in the four constituent countries of the UK without the app following the delay, but Zahawi said that it will be up and running as part of the system “as soon as we [the government] think it is robust”.
Zahawi said: "We are working flat out. We want to make sure it actually does everything it needs to do and will be in place this month.
"I can't give you an exact date, it would be wrong for me to do so."
The NHS app will automatically alert individuals who have recently been in close contact with others who have been diagnosed with Covid-19 and tell them to self-isolate.
Under England’s existing system, 25,000 people have already been recruited as NHS contact tracers already, capable of handling 10,000 new cases per day. Their role is to text, email or call those who have tested positive and ascertain who they have been in contact with and then instruct those individuals to self-isolate.
Prime minister Boris Johnson promised last month that a “world-beating” contact tracing system would be running from June, although some health experts feel such a system should have been launched sooner.
Contact tracing had already been in place earlier on in the pandemic, but it was halted in mid-March after England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty deemed it unnecessary to identify every case amid a high rate of infection.
Elsewhere, the government has made the wearing of face coverings compulsory on public transport from June 15, but doctors have suggested that it should be mandatory to wear them in all places where social distancing cannot be practised.