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New virus tracking app could help ease lockdown in UK

New virus tracking app could help ease lockdown in UK

The government may release an app which alerts people if they have recently been too close to someone who has tested positive for the COVID-19 Coronavirus.

According to multiple reports, the app for smartphones would operate on an opt-in basis.

Scientists advising the government have said that such an app could have a significant impact in limiting lockdown measures and that the technology would enable a week's worth of manual detective work to be done almost instantly.

NHSx, a new unit driving forward the digital transformation of the NHS has confirmed that they are exploring the idea. Matthew Gould, CEO of NHSx said;

"NHSX is looking at whether app-based solutions might be helpful in tracking and managing coronavirus, and we have assembled expertise from inside and outside the organisation to do this as rapidly as possible,"

Under plans, the app would detect other phones in close vicinity through short-range Bluetooth signals and would store a record of contacts on the device. If someone then tests positive for the virus, the app will send a signal to those contacts who have been in close proximity to that person, advising them to be tested and stay in quarantine, it is understood.

The exact details of how the app could operate and if/when it will be released remain somewhat uncertain, however, such an app would follow similar plans by the Irish government and other countries around the world. Similar software has been deployed in China, where members of the public have only been able to use public transport if they have the app installed.

It has been suggested that such an app may allow a quicker return to some normality, and the lifting of some of the lockdown measures sooner that are currently in place in the UK.

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