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How Does the Track & Trace COVID-19 App Work?

The contact tracing app that the Government have created in collaboration with the NHS has been live on the app stores and active for a few months now; downloaded over 14 million times in the week of its launch. The app has received mixed reviews from the public in terms of its effectiveness and whether the app is successfully tracing and preventing the spread of COVID-19. The app notifies users to self-isolate if the app detects that the user has been in contact with someone that has tested positive for COVID-19. If a user ignores the apps request to self-isolate, they could be fined up to £10,000 by the Government in the hopes of encouraging individuals to follow government guidelines at all times and prevent the spread of the virus.

The mobile app has a basic symptom checker which asks the user about potential symptoms such as a fever, cough and the loss of smell and taste. The app also enables individuals who are experiencing three or more common symptoms to book a COVID-19 test, which they can book through the mobile application. If the test comes back with a positive result, the app then presents the user with some advice on next steps and how to act accordingly to prevent spreading the virus to others, such as the self-isolation timeline.

Another feature of the NHS mobile app is the ability to ‘check-in’ to public places such as bars and restaurants. Users can check-in using a QR code that the venue legally has to provide and it should be scanned before you enter. This method of track and trace allows the app to keep a record of the public places you have been to and your potential exposure to COVID-19.

The mobile app was developed with Google and Apple’s privacy-preserving technology. Any data that is shared is housed within the mobile application on the users phone. The mobile app cannot access your location data, contacts, or GPS; protecting user data. The app takes advantage of Apple and Google’s API exposure notification and Bluetooth system. This allows the app to measure the duration and distance between the two mobile phones. If you have been in close contact with an individual for a sufficient period of time who has been tested positive for Coronavirus, you will receive a notification with advice on what to do next and how to act accordingly in order to protect others.

Have You Downloaded the App Yet?

The user’s device must have Android 6.0 or for iPhone users, iOS 13.5, while also having Bluetooth 4.0 or higher. The app isn’t available for users that have an iPhone 6 or older iPhone models. If you’re an iPhone user, ensure that you can download the app by checking your iOS software. You can do this by going into Settings > General > and then tap ‘About’. To update your iOS software click on the ‘Software Update’. For Android users, click on Settings >System > Advanced. This will show you what version of the OS you have, to update your software version click on ‘System Update’ and once you have done so you will be able to download the Track and Trace COVID-19 app to mitigate risk and to help stop the spread of the virus.


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