Coronavirus: Health minister says app should roll out by winter

NHS Covid-19 app

A government minister said the SSN’s coronavirus contact monitoring app isn’t “a priority” and wasn’t sure it would be released later this winter.

The app, which was tested on the Isle of Wight, was initially expected to be launched nationally weeks ago.

Lord Bethell, the minister of innovation for the Department of Health and Social Assistance, said he was unable to set a date for its launch.

But he insisted that the trial “went really well.”

Wednesday afternoon he was answering questions from the science and technology committee.

“We are trying to get something for the winter, but at the moment it is not the priority for us,” said Lord Bethell in response to a question about the app.

He admitted that it was “an expectation of management’s response, saying I can’t give you an appointment.”

Lord Bethell said that at some point it was still the government’s intention to launch it.

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He also added that the Isle of Wight trial had shown that some people preferred humans to search for contacts.

“There is a danger of it being too technological and relying too much on text and e-mail, alienating or freaking people out – because they sell out pretty alarming news through pretty random communication,” he said.

Since the trial phase started six weeks ago, there have been few official updates on any expected timeline and reports that ministers are considering changing systems.

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