A new contact tracing app will be launched on the Isle of Wight this week as part of government action to test, track and trace infections to minimise the spread of COVID-19 and move towards safely reducing lockdown measures.
Developed by NHSX, the technology arm of the NHS, and a team of scientists and doctors, the app is designed to significantly speed up contact tracing to rapidly identify people most at risk of infection.
When an individual reports symptoms through the app, other app users who have been in significant recent contact with the person are identified, including unknown contacts such as someone they may have sat next to on public transport. The app anonymously alerts these contacts and provides advice, including how to get a test to confirm whether or not they have COVID-19. For those who may not be able to access to the app, there will be an option to report symptoms and order tests in other ways, such telephone interviews.
The Isle of Wight was chosen to trial the project because it has a single NHS trust that covers all NHS services on the island. The test, track and trace programme is expected to scale up nationally in mid-May, with 18,000 additional contact tracers being deployed to support the programme.
NHSX has involved experts from the National Cyber Security Centre to advise on best practice on privacy and data security. Data will only ever be used for NHS care, management, evaluation and research and the NHS will comply fully with the law around its use, including the Data Protection Act.
Read the full press release by the Department of Health and Social Care here.