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Why have I got a message from 'NHStracing'?

Why have I got a message from 'NHStracing'?

Many may fear for the worst when they see a new SMS from 'NHStracing', however, such messages are being received by people across England this weekend.

Some social media users have posted today about having a 'heart drop' moment when receiving an SMS from 'NHS tracing'. There is though a simple explanation as to why so many of us are receiving messages from 'NHStracing'

This weekend, the government is promoting the new NHS COVID-19 app by texting and emailing people across England, encouraging them to install it on their mobile device. 

On 26 & 27 September, everyone over the age of 16 who is registered with a GP in England and has provided an email address or mobile phone number to them will receive an email or SMS.

Text messages will come from 'NHStracing', with the message reading;

"This is a public health message from NHS Test and Trace. Please download and use the NHS COVID-19 app from the App Store or Google Play. Further information at https://covid19.nhs.uk/"

A similar but longer message from 'NHS Test and Trace COVID-19 App' is being emailed to some people, starting with "This is a public health message from NHS Test and Trace" and advising "The app will help you to understand and manage you personal risk, and reduce the spread of Coronavirus. The more people who use it, the more effective it will be."

Over 1 million people downloaded the app in the first 24 hours from it being released on Thursday, with the email and text message campaigns designed to get more people on the app, which is available in England and Wales.

In an FAQ on the app's support website, it is explained;

"It was determined a matter of public health importance to encourage people to download the app as a critical part of NHS Test and Trace. Wide use of the app will help manage and contain the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19) as part of the overall Test, Trace and Contain strategy."

"Encouraging people to download the NHS COVID-19 app is considered by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) to be a highly important tool for managing and monitoring the outbreak, and a matter of public interest."

The long-awaited app has a number of features, including alerting people if they've been near another app user recently for 15 minutes who has tested positive for COVID-19. Other features include a check-in function and symptoms checker.

Some people have so far refused to download the app due to privacy concerns or for other reasons, despite the app not holding peronal information such as users' names or addresses. Many other people have been unable to download the app, due to it not being compatiable with some older smartphones.

The app has been described as "a vital part of the NHS Test and Trace service in England, and the NHS Wales Test, Trace, Protect service" and is available on the App Store and the Google Play Store.