A new SSN coronavirus contact tracking app is expected to be operational later this month, a minister said.
Business Minister Nadhim Zahawi said the app – which has been tried on the Isle of Wight – “will work as soon as we believe it is solid.”
New test and tracking systems were launched in England and Scotland last week, but without the app due to delays.
The Guardian reported that an NHS chief said the larger plan would initially be flawed but “world class” by the fall.
The document states that the chief operating officer of the test and trace scheme says that the scheme should fully function by September or October.
The NHS app – which will automatically notify people – started trial on the Isle of Wight in early May. The government then said it hoped that it would be launched nationally by mid-May.
Meanwhile, doctors have urged the government to make face coverage mandatory in all places where social distancing is not possible, not just on public transportation.
All public transport passengers in England have to wear cover from June 15, the government said Thursday.
Initially, the NHS app was planned to be part of last week’s launch of England’s test and track scheme, but the launch of the app was delayed because more testing was needed.
Scotland also launched its traceability program last week while Northern Ireland had already started a contact traceability program. Wales started its program on Monday.
Speaking about BBC Question Time on Thursday, Zahawi said, “The app, we are working at full speed. We want to make sure it does everything it needs to do and will be up and running this month.
“I can’t give you an exact date, it would be wrong for me to do it.”
Asked to confirm that this month will be implemented nationally, he said, “I would like to think that we would be able to manage it later this month, yes.”
He said the pilot in the Isle of Wight showed that people actually preferred to be contacted by a human being, “which is why we recruited 25,000 people who are track-and-tracers who can handle around 10,000 cases per day” .
Contact text tracers, email or call people who test positive for coronavirus and ask who they have had contact with. All those contacts who may be at risk of infection are told to isolate themselves for 14 days, even if they are not sick.
The 25,000 tracers who work for the NHS test and track team in England have already started contacting people.
But some contact detectors claimed to have received very little work so far, with one who told the BBC that he had worked 38 hours but had not yet made a single phone call and spent time watching Netflix.
- Contact the “paid to watch Netflix” tracer
The contact trail for coronavirus began when the UK identified its first two cases in late January.
But it was stopped in mid-March after the British chief medical officer, Prof. Chris Whitty, said that “it is no longer necessary for us to identify each case.”
Then, in May, Prime Minister Boris Johnson pledged to put in place a “beat the world” tracking system from June.
NHS chiefs said that such a system is important to avoid a possible second wave of coronavirus cases.
However, the head of the NHS Confederation said that a test, track and trace strategy should have been put in place sooner.
A spokesman for the Department of Health said the new test and traceability service was up and running and would save lives, adding that over 25,000 contact detectors were already in place.
In other developments:
- The British Dental Association (BDA) has warned that there will be no return to “business as usual” for dentistry in England as some practices prepare to reopen on Monday
- An exercise simulating a coronavirus outbreak in Scotland, which was shared with a UK government advisory group, revealed concerns about protective equipment and contract analysis
- Activists threatened to file a lawsuit against the government for failing to provide free meal vouchers during the summer
- AstraZeneca says it will be able to deliver two billion doses of a potential viral vaccine following two new deals
- The human rights watchdog will investigate racial inequalities “stripped” by the pandemic
- A Public Health England report that investigated the impact of the virus on different ethnic groups was not conducted by the health official who is believed to be responsible
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